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Singapore stocks close lower as oil stocks take a beating

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A nervous silence reigned in most dealing rooms on Tuesday, as markets kept wary eyes cocked in China's direction and as traders stayed away in droves, worried that China's stock market plunges of the past week are not yet over.

A NERVOUS silence reigned in most dealing rooms on Tuesday, as markets kept wary eyes cocked in China's direction and as traders stayed away in droves, worried that China's stock market plunges of the past week are not yet over.

The relentless slide in oil prices meant heavy selling of offshore and marine (O&M) stocks, which in turn dragged the Straits Times Index (STI) 17.07 points lower to 2,691.78, its sixth loss in seven sessions so far this year.

Turnover amounted to 1.8 billion units worth S$1.02 billion, of which S$743 million or 73 per cent was done in the 30 STI components. Clearly, institutions and programme traders were active, even if retail players were not. Excluding warrants, there were 148 rises versus 273 falls.

"Today should have been cancelled due to a lack of interest," said a retail trading representative. "After Monday, we should have skipped Tuesday altogether and gone straight to Wednesday."

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The most actively traded counter was the nil-paid rights of water treatment firm Moya Asia, which dropped S$0.004 to S$0.002 on volume of 536 million. The underlying shares were also active, ending S$0.002 weaker at S$0.035 with 28.4 million done. Among the top 20 most liquid stocks was Luzhou Bio-Chem, which added S$0.01 at S$0.054 on volume of 95.6 million. The company was last week queried by the Singapore Exchange (SGX) for possible reasons for the interest in its shares and replied in the negative.

Two companies received SGX queries on Tuesday - Halcyon Agri after its shares jumped S$0.05 or 8.7 per cent to S$0.69 with 3.4 million traded; and GMG Global whose shares ended S$0.03 or 10 per cent stronger at S$0.33 on volume of 639,100. Halcyon halted trading a short while after being queried pending an announcement.

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