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Singapore shares close weaker; STI down 4.4% for week, 8.7% for 2016 so far

THE first week of 2016 saw the Straits Times Index lose 4.6 per cent whilst the second, which is the one just past, saw it drop 121 points or 4.4 per cent. In all, 2016's loss to date has been about 252 points or 8.7 per cent - more, if US dollars are used.

Turbulence in China and ever-weakening oil prices have been cited as the main reasons for the selloff that has hit mainly offshore and marine (O&M) stocks, with spillover weakness in other blue chips such as the banks.

Volume has been heavily concentrated in the 30 STI components - every day for the past week, around 70 per cent of dollar business comes from trading of these stocks.

Keppel Corp was in focus, the market clearly downgrading the stock in view of the plunge in oil prices. Having started the year at S$6.51, Keppel closed at S$4.84 on Friday, a loss of S$1.67 or almost 26 per cent in ten trading sessions.

SembCorp Marine has suffered a similar fate, over the same period plunging from S$1.75 to S$1.385, for a loss of 21 per cent. It did however, manage a S$0.015 rise on Friday.

Other than banks and the O&M sector, Noble Group has stood out - after having its credit rating downgraded by S&P and Moody's in recent weeks, the counter was heavily traded, on Friday losing more ground, down S$0.01 to S$0.295 on volume of 51.6 million.

Friday's session also saw the selling of the earlier days ease slightly - but only in the morning session. Pressure emerged in the early afternoon and at the close of trading, the index stood 13.81 points weaker.