Singapore stocks end lower; STI down 16 points

SINGAPORE - Singapore shares ended lower, as investors took profit after weak United States retail sector earnings reports stoked fears that American consumers were not spending enough to power domestic economic growth.

The Straits Times Index fell 0.48 per cent or 15.82 points to 3,255.29, dragged down by the banks and below forecast earnings from Thai Beverage, City Developments and ST Engineering. For the week, the index finished 0.8 per cent higher. 

"The banks are technically overbought, and due for a pullback," CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang said. DBS Group fell 1.2 per cent or 25 cents to $20.68; UOB shed 1.6 per cent or 38 cents to $23.59.

OCBC dipped 0.1 per cent or one cent to $10.55. Phillip Securities analyst Jeremy Teong maintained a "reduce" call on OCBC with an "unchanged target price of $8.48."

"We saw unfavourable loans volume... suppressing net interest income growth, and these conditions may continue to persist this year.

"We see strong competition in overseas markets coming from at least one large universal bank that has operations in similar markets and driving similar product strategies as OCBC. This universal bank has a strong presence in the Pearl River Delta region in China which is also an area of interest for OCBC Wing Hang," Mr Teong said.

The index was weighed down by Thai Beverage, which lost 3.3 per cent or three cents to 88.5 cents, with 57.8 million shares traded. DBS Group Research maintained a buy call on the counter, even though its second quarter results were "a dampener".

Also weighing on sentiment was Noble Group, which crashed for a second straight session following several analysts' downgrades after it posted a surprise loss for the first quarter. Further pressuring the stock were nagging questions over its ability to secure sufficient funding from its key banks and downbeat comments by outgoing chairman Richard Elman that investors shouldn't expect a return to profits anytime soon.

Bucking the downtrend is Wilmar International, which jumped 9.6 per cent or 33 cents to $3.76, on trade of 42 million shares after posting robust first quarter results.