Thursday, March 22, 2012

Singapore shares end down 0.9%

SINGAPORE: Singapore share prices ended 0.9 percent lower on Thursday to close at their lowest level in more than a week.

The blue-chip Straits Times Index (STI) fell 26.38 points to 2,979.25, an intra-day low.

In the broader market, losers beat gainers 240 to 128.

Overall volume traded was 1.67 billion shares worth S$1.02 billion.

The STI's drop followed weakness in European equity markets after data showed Germany's manufacturing sector shrank in March for the first time this year.

Investors were also spooked by weak data out of China.

HSBC's preliminary Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) showed China's manufacturing activity contracted for the fifth straight month in March.

The PMI fell to 48.1 compared with a final reading of 49.6 in February, HSBC said. A reading above 50 indicates the sector is expanding while a reading below 50 suggests a contraction.

The figures will fuel fears that the world's second largest economy is losing its strength after a string of negative data including a record trade deficit.

On the Singapore Exchange (SGX), property developer Hongkong Land Holdings and commodity trading firm Noble Group were among the losers.

Hongkong Land Holdings fell 3% to US$5.50. Noble Group, which is considered highly exposed to demand for industrial commodities, fell 2.5% to S$1.37. A sharper-than-expected slowdown in China's economy would weaken the country's appetite for such raw materials.

However, Hutchison Port Holdings Trust closed up 0.7% at US$0.77 after the Singapore Exchange said Thursday it is allowing listed securities to be traded in two different currencies.

HPH Trust will be the first listed security to launch dual currency units, in US dollars and Singapore dollars and will start trading on April 2, said the SGX.

The company later confirmed the news, and said the move will benefit Singapore dollar investors, making it more convenient and cost-effective to trade in the trust's units without the need to incur foreign exchange costs.

- CNA/ir

View the original article here

Source From Channel News Asia

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