[BANGKOK] Singapore shares suffered the worst drop in almost two weeks on Friday amid a rise in the Singapore dollar and volatility in the foreign exchange market while late bargain hunting helped other markets in Southeast Asia trim some early losses.
The benchmark Straits Times Index fell 1.14 per cent to 3,300.68, the lowest close since Jan 7, ending the week 1.1 per cent lower.
The Singapore dollar edged higher in a reflection of what analysts said were traders being forced to shift their positions and strategies, after Switzerland's unexpected move to abandon its cap on the franc jolted financial markets.
Shares of DBS Group Holdings Ltd, United Overseas Bank Ltd and Noble Group Ltd were among actively traded in terms of turnover.
Analysts said the Swiss Bank's move appeared to foretell that next week the European Central Bank's meeting could announce some big quantitative easing measures, broker NRA Capital said in a report.
Fund flows were broadly weak, with Malaysia reporting a net foreign selling of RM371 million (US$104 million), with Thailand's a net 1.7 billion baht (US$52 million) outflow and Indonesia's 333.4 billion rupiah (US$27 million) outflow, stock exchange and Thomson Reuters data showed.
Bangkok's SET index finished down 0.4 per cent at 1,517.74, slightly coming off a day low of 1,514.83. It slipped 0.8 per cent on the week, after a 2.1 per cent gain a week earlier.
Thai energy firm PTT shares gained 0.9 per cent while Malaysia's oil and gas firm Sapurakencana Petroleum jumped 2.5 per cent after Brent crude oil futures rose above US$49 a barrel on Friday as the IEA said the tide of recent price slumps may turn.
The region had a mixed performance on the week, with Malaysia and Vietnam posting a weekly gain of 0.6 per cent and 0.9 per cent, respectively, while Indonesia was down 1.3 per cent.