Singapore index heads for first weekly loss in three weeks

SINGAPORE(Reuters) - Singapore stocks fell for a second day on Friday, on course for a weekly decline for the first time in three weeks, while shares in Singapore's top two lenders eased as investors remained wary of uncertain outlook even after the banks reported better-than-expected results.

The benchmark Straits Times Index was down 0.4 per cent at 3,197.17, while the MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.2 per cent.

DBS Group Holdings, Southeast Asia's biggest lender, edged down 0.4 per cent to $16.67 in quiet trading, easing from a six-week high of $16.84 earlier in the week.

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp, Singapore's second-biggest lender, fell 0.6 per cent to $10.34, after having touched a 1-1/2-week low of $10.32 earlier in the day.

Singapore's banks have benefited from solid growth in lending over the past few quarters, though they face a tougher outlook on housing loans after the government introduced measures to cool the city state's overheated property market.

Commodities firm Noble Group and palm oil producer Golden Agri-Resources were the worst performers on the index. Shares of Noble dropped 3.4 per cent to a two-week low at $0.99. Golden Agri shares fell as much as 1.7 per cent to $0.58 after surging to a record seven-month high on Thursday.

Singapore's SMRT Corp plunged to a record low in six years after the transport operator reported a 56.8 per cent decline in net income to $14.4 million for the second quarter ended September due to lack of fare increase in an escalating cost environment.

SMRT shares fell as much as 3.1 per cent to $1.26, with 1.2 million shares traded, about 1.7 times its average 30-day full-day volume.

"While a change to the business model appears imminent, we caution against turning positive on the stock as terms for the transition remains highly uncertain," Maybank Kim Eng analysts said in a research note.

Maybank has a "sell" rating on SMRT shares with a target price of $0.80.

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