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Singapore shares close lower on Brexit woes, Reits outperform as defensive plays

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PREDICTABLY, "Brexit" considerations dominated a volatile Monday, though at the back of the minds of traders was always the possibility that the main blue chips could enjoy a spot of window dressing as the end of the first half of 2016 approaches on Thursday.

Also a factor is that the federal funds futures market is now pricing in a 10 per cent chance of a rate cut at next month's Federal Open Markets Committee meeting - a sharp reversal from a few weeks ago when expectations were for a rate hike.

With interest rates expected to remain depressed (or cut) in order to save crumbling markets and with safety/defensiveness at the forefront of investors' minds, real estate investment trusts, or Reits, stood out by virtue of their outperformance while stocks with significant UK exposure came under some pressure but perhaps not as much as expected.

Overall, an uneasy calm on the first trading day after the UK voted to leave the European Union ensured that prices were weak but not that weak as traders waited to discern more details on what might happen next in Europe.

The Straits Times Index underwent a volatile session tracking Japan, Hong Kong, the Dow futures and Europe. It first fell sharply, then rebounded sharply into the black before settling for a nett loss of 5.54 points at 2,729.85 at the close. Singtel's S$0.07 rise to S$3.89 ensured that the loss was not greater.