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Singapore shares close weaker, but late rebound helps trim losses

ANOTHER day, another new low, though in the end it could have been a lot worse.

The Straits Times Index (STI) on Tuesday fell for a fifth consecutive session to reach a fresh 38-month low of 2,787.94, its 3.98-point loss coming in the wake of a large - but not wholly unexpected - blowout on Wall Street that triggered selling pressure throughout the region.

However, a rebound in the Dow futures late in the afternoon ensured that the STI rebounded significantly off its intraday low of 2,740. This means that the index rose 47 points in the afternoon.

Over in Hong Kong, trading resumed after a public holiday on Monday, with the Hang Seng Index plunging 3 per cent. In China, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 2 per cent; and in Japan, the Nikkei 225 ended 4 per cent weaker.

The list of worries which have cloaked equity markets everywhere would make familiar reading to most observers - a weak China economy that is wreaking havoc on commodity prices, a China stock market whose volatility has unnerved many investors and had prompted a shift of money out of emerging Asia, and uncertainty over the timing of the first US interest rate hike in seven years.

Volume here amounted to 1.2 billion units worth S$1.3 billion and excluding warrants, there were only 126 rises versus 271 falls.

"The haze index has hit very unhealthy levels - and so has the STI," quipped a dealer in the morning.

The day's most actively traded stock was commodities firm Noble Group which plunged S$0.045 or 10 per cent to S$0.40 on volume of 122 million. Other commodity stocks such as Wilmar International, Golden Agri and First Resources all also came under pressure, though some managed to bounce off their intraday lows.