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Singapore stocks close weaker after release of soft China numbers

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NOT surprisingly, the window-dressing push on Friday ran out of puff on Monday, leaving the Straits Times Index (STI) nursing a 26.7 points or one per cent loss at 2,602.41.

NOT surprisingly, the window-dressing push on Friday ran out of puff on Monday, leaving the Straits Times Index (STI) nursing a 26.7 points or one per cent loss at 2,602.41. Offshore and marine stocks came under renewed pressure, as did the three banks and Singtel. Volume fell from Friday's S$1.4 billion to one billion units worth S$1.07 billion and the advance-decline score excluding warrants was 183-203.

Over in North Asia, the Hang Seng Index dropped 0.45 per cent and the Shanghai Composite 1.8 per cent after the release of weak China manufacturing data. The Dow futures in the meantime, traded about 50 points in the red.

The STI on Friday had jumped 2.6 per cent partly in line with a push on the whole region after the Bank of Japan pushed interest rates into negative territory and partly because of window-dressing on the last trading day of the month.

Because of the latter, observers said that the pullback on Monday was to be expected, even though the Nikkei 225 on Monday continued to advance, this time by just under 2 per cent. "We seem to be stuck in a cycle that's distorted by increased amounts of short-selling and short-covering," said a dealer.

In the O&M sector, shares of heavweights Keppel Corp and Sembcorp Marine ended weaker, as did smaller firms such as Ezra and Ezion. EMS Energy, however, managed a S$0.005 rise to S$0.07 on volume of 6.7 million. The counter last week crashed by 78.3 per cent for reasons unknown.

Also enjoying some respite from recent selling was SingPost, which added S$0.005 at S$1.34 on volume of 9.1 million. The company has been in the spotlight because of governance issues.