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Singapore shares close weaker but off their lows, thanks to Dow futures rebound

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THE failure of talks over the weekend in Doha to limit the supply of oil brought the sellers out and gave traders an excuse to go short on Monday with the Straits Times Index (STI) dropping 6.19 points to 2,917.75. Turnover was a low 927 million units worth S$815 million and excluding warrants there were 169 rises versus 244 falls.

The Dow futures, in the meantime, dropped 100 points in the early afternoon, though it managed to regain about 60 by 5pm. As a result, the STI also climbed off its intraday floor of 2,892. Both rebounds suggested that Wall Street on Monday may not plunge as badly as initially feared.

Markets around the region mostly ended weaker when oil prices fell sharply after news that the weekend oil talks had ended with no agreement.

Reports said Saudi Arabia reiterated that the country would only be a party to any oil freeze if all major producers including Iran are in agreement, but Iran said it saw no reason to participate in the talks because it is committed to raise production to pre-sanction levels.

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With oil dropping about 3 per cent, offshore and marine stocks were unsurprisingly the targets of those itching to go short after last week's 115-points jump in the STI. Keppel Corp, Sembcorp Marine, Ezra and Ezion all finished weaker. The FTSE ST Oil and Gas Index dropped 2.4 per cent.