Singapore shares ended lower on profit taking and as investors stayed on the sidelines ahead of US President Donald Trump's address today that may shed light on proposed tax reforms. The Straits Times Index (STI) ended 0.27 per cent or 8.41 points lower at 3,108.62, partly due to Golden Agri-Resources, which fell 3.8 per cent or 1.5 cents to 38.5 cents.
Golden Agri was lower after getting a reduce call from CIMB after the group reported below-forecast fourth-quarter earnings last week. The broker also cited concerns over its "unexciting output prospects beyond full-year 2017 as 44 per cent of its estates are above 19 years old and will need to undergo replanting when they are 25 years old".
"STI's decline last Friday off the 3,140 levels could well be an early warning of a choppy March," DBS Group Research warned.
"The uncertainty over a possible rate hike in March and the upcoming French elections in April have offset optimism that the Singapore economy is turning for the better, and support for the April-May ex-dividend period. Equity markets may have to get past the March FOMC meeting and the April French elections before resuming their climb," the brokerage said.
The STI was also dragged down by Wilmar International, which lost 1.1 per cent or 4 cents to $3.66, while HongKong Land dipped 1.3 per cent or 9 US cents to US$6.73.
UOL Group, the property company controlled by United Overseas Bank's Wee family, dropped 2.1 per cent or 14 cents to $6.51, after it posted below-forecast fourth-quarter earnings. But CIMB has an add call on the firm, saying "we continue to like UOL for its high recurrent income base". There is also privatisation potential as UOL has amassed a current 44.29 per cent stake in United Industrial Corp, its associated company, the broker added.
Genting Singapore shed 1.5 per cent or 1.5 cents to 99 cents. The casino operator got an equal-weight call from Morgan Stanley, which noted that Genting "could have meaningful upside if its (profitability) grows from the fourth quarter and a Japanese licence is won; but neither is certain".
Among the actives yesterday, Noble Group was the most heavily traded. The counter rose 0.5 cent or 2.2 per cent at 23 cents, with more than 213 million shares traded ahead of the release of its full-year results.
Another active was Cosco Corp. The counter, which had been suspended since Dec 16 last year, resumed trading last Friday. It jumped 16.1 per cent or 4.5 cents to 32.5 cents yesterday, as investors cheered last Friday's news that parent China Cosco Shipping Corp has offered to acquire its shipyard businesses as part of a company-wide restructuring. Other actives included Vallianz which saw 107.8 million shares changing hands. It put on 0.1 cent to close at 2.2 cents. Former penny stock darling Blumont had a trading volume of 73.6 million. Its shares rose 0.1 cent to 0.4 cent.