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Singapore shares close mixed; STI enjoys late window-dressing push

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THE Straits Times Index struggled for most of Monday to stay in the black in the face of selling pressure in China and Hong Kong, dipping briefly into the red in the late afternoon before a late, month-end window-dressing push took it to a gain of 17.13 points at 2,666.51.

Volume spiked up to 1.5b units worth S$2.6b thanks mainly to a US$1.72 surge in Jardine Matheson to US$58.22 that added S$995m to the total. The stock is to be added to the MSCI Hong Kong Index.

The broad market was mixed with 196 rises versus 187 falls. General sentiment was cautious, understandable given the volatility of the past few weeks. Brokers did however, note that swings in China were having less of an impact here than they did earlier in the year.

"We saw stocks like Singtel and UOB jump off their lows, most probably window-dressing," said a dealer. "The Dow futures is -90 so if Wall Street tanks on Monday, Tuesday could see the index fall back."

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Noble Group's shares fell one cent to S$0.345 on volume of 36.9 million. The commodities firm last week reported a US$1.67 billion loss for 2015. Ratings agency Standard & Poor's said it has lowered its long-term corporate credit rating on Noble Group Ltd to 'BB-' from 'BB+'.

"We downgraded Noble because of the company's volatile earnings and high trade risk position, as reflected in its large market-to-market loss in 2015," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst, Cindy Huang, in a press statement.

"In our view, the loss weakens Noble's credit standing and relationship with banks, despite the company's near-term refinancing risk remaining manageable."

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