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Singapore shares close lower; STI drops 13 points after six days of gains


THE Straits Times Index (STI), after having risen over six consecutive days during which it added a whopping 234 points, faltered on the seventh which was Monday, dropping 13.49 points to 2,823.51.

Battered offshore and marine (O&M) stocks provided the main highlights, with counters such as Technics Oil and Gas, Ezra, Ezion, Loyz Energy and Nam Cheong all enjoying big percentage gains in high volume.

All 20 most actively traded stocks were priced below S$0.50 and 12 were from the O&M or shipping sectors. Total turnover amounted to 2.8 billion units worth S$1.5 billion for an average of S$0.53 per unit, the lowest this year. Excluding warrants, there were 268 rises versus 168 falls.

Among blue chips, banks had a mixed outing with DBS rising but OCBC and UOB closing weaker. In its "overweight" on the banks, RHB noted that prices have rebounded off the lows seen in mid-February as investors took some comfort from: a) details provided on exposures to the oil & gas sector and China, two keys areas of asset quality concerns; b) banks' confidence that non-performing loan ratios would peak below the US sub-prime crisis levels; and c) the recent recovery in oil prices, which would somewhat ease pressure on asset quality.

"Key trends to watch: We believe share prices of SG Banks would remain volatile in 2016," said RHB. "Banks have guided for benign credit costs but investors are not fully convinced. Any negative turn in macroeconomic data points would easily trigger a 'risk-off' stance," said the broker.

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