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Singapore shares close 0.5% lower on Thursday

SHARE prices in the Singapore bourse fell, with the key Straits Times Index losing 15.77 points or 0.46 per cent to finish at 3,428.18 on Thursday.

The key barometer was in fact on recovery mode through most of the day following Wednesday's steep losses as the shock over Italy's political turmoil eased but buckled under some selling pressure in the last minutes of the trading session.

Turnover came in at 2.7 billion shares worth S$3.5 billion versus Wednesday's 2.03 billion shares worth S$1.90 billion. Gainers outpaced losers by a small margin with 220 counters up and 216 counters down.

The eleventh-hour dip into the red saw the Singapore market buck the trend in the region with most key indices closing higher.

Renewed attempts to form a government in Italy soothed the markets, particularly following Prime Minister-designate Carlo Cottarelli's remarks that suggested the country may avoid a snap election - investors had earlier feared that fresh elections could turn into a de-facto referendum on Italy's euro membership.

This appeared enough to lift the gloom as reflected by the recovery in Italian assets while the euro rallied after sinking to a 10-month low and US stocks pared losses overnight Wednesday.

Upbeat manufacturing data out of China further buoyed trading sentiment ahead of the release of some key data later in the day, including inflation digits out of the eurozone.

"The focus will return to fundamentals and today's preliminary eurozone May CPI (consumer price index) data release will be of great importance for the European Central Bank's next meeting.

"A better-than-expected reading will support proposals for ending quantitative easing and beginning the normalisation process," said FXTM chief market strategist Hussein Sayed.

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