Business

Singapore bourse remains subdued

Few major cues to help equities break out of the doldrums, with STI inching up 5.02 points, or 0.14%, to 3,584.56

Despite the flurry of news items from various companies, yesterday still saw a slow session on the overall bourse, with few clear leads.

About 1.49 billion shares changed hands for $1.22 billion, with losers beating gainers 246 to 187.

The benchmark Straits Times Index inched up by a mere 5.02 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 3,584.56.

DBS analysts noted of the climate in equities: "We believe it pays to be cautious at this juncture as the macro tightening backdrop is hardly conducive for markets to perform.

"Domestic drivers offer very little conviction for markets to move higher either as interest rates and exchange rates take charge, while trade war 'tit-for-tat' negotiation tactics add to uncertainties on specific market sectors and stocks."

Thai Beverage helped to keep the index bubbly, adding 0.07 cents, or 8.7 per cent, to 0.875 cents.

This was on the day's second-highest counter churn of 89.31 million shares.

ThaiBev's Fraser and Neave unit, which closed flat at $2.09, upped its stake in another Vietnamese state-owned enterprise on Monday.

It now holds about 20 per cent of leading dairy producer Vinamilk.

Venture Corporation wobbled, losing $2.17, or 8.49 per cent, to $23.40.

The electronic services provider, which will report its earnings today, has taken a hit from purported client Philip Morris' electronic cigarette sales woes.

Singapore Technologies Engineering was down by 14 cents, or 3.87 per cent, to $3.48 on its ex-dividend date.

A 75.3 per cent-owned road construction equipment joint venture in China filed a bankruptcy petition in Jiangsu province, ST Engineering had announced on Monday evening.

HOT STOCK

Otherwise, offshore and marine services company Ezion Holdings was a hot stock again, topping the actives list on a volume of 90.02 million shares.

It shed 1.2 cents, or 7.06 per cent, to 15.8 cents.

While recently upgraded to a "buy" rating by DBS Vickers, Ezion has faced its fair share of doubters upon last week's return from months of suspended trading.

KGI Securities analyst Joel Ng said yesterday that his team remains cautious on the next three years for Ezion "as cash flow remains tight and as fundamentals in its specific sectors are still challenged by asset over-supply".

The brokerage stuck to a "sell" call, with a fair value of 10 cents.

Meanwhile, entertainment company mm2 Asia closed flat at 49 cents, after the late-night news that OSIM founder Ron Sim is putting up $2 million to become a pre-listing investor in subsidiary Vividthree Holdings.

Lian Beng Group spin-off SLB Development dipped by 0.01 cents to 0.235 cents.

It has made its first big acquisition since its Catalist debut, with a 51 per cent-owned unit paying $76.25 million for the Pei-Fu Industrial Building.

Mainboard-listed property developer Oxley Holdings, which owns the remaining 49 per cent of the unit, ended higher by half a cent, or 1.03 per cent, at $0.49.

ESR-Reit dipped by half a cent, or 0.93 per cent, to $0.535, after it inked a $95.8 million deal for a logistics facility in Tampines.

CGS-CIMB analysts said that "valuations remain constructive" for the trust, in spite of a drop in first-quarter distribution per unit last week.

Elsewhere in Asia, key Chinese indices strengthened. Shanghai gained 1.99 per cent and Hong Kong, 1.26 per cent.

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