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Singapore shares dip 0.1% on Wednesday

THE Singapore market had a busy mid-week session on its hands, though much of the vibrant turnover on the day can be attributed to a number of very different factors that weighed on investors' minds.

The result was a tussle between bulls and bears, but overall, "market seems to be in waiting mood for more data, such as this Friday's US jobs report to assess the impact of trade war and supporting evidence for US Federal Reserve to initiate rate cut", UOB Kay Hian trading representative Brandon Leu said.

The Straits Times Index (STI) finished 3.00 points or 0.1 per cent lower at 3,367.80.

Across the Asia-Pacific, markets in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea closed lower. Meanwhile, Australia bucked the trend, posting a 0.5 per cent gain.

In Singapore, trading volume clocked in at 1.57 billion securities, 31 per cent over the daily average in the first five months of 2019. Total turnover came to S$1.30 billion, 25 per cent over the January-to-May daily average.

Across the market, decliners outpaced advancers 205 to 188. Thirteen of the STI's 30 components finished in the red.

The local banks were mixed. DBS Group Holdings fell S$0.35 or 1.3 per cent to S$26.15, OCBC Bank was S$0.06 or 0.5 per cent down at S$11.48 while United Overseas Bank finished at S$26.59, up S$0.04 or 0.1 per cent.

The cyclically-sensitive manufacturing and semiconductor sector faced headwinds from Japan-Korea tensions, which dented sentiment across semiconductor counters in the region.

"Japan's decision to curb exports of high-tech materials to South Korea could have a significant impact on electronics supply chains, not only in Korea, but also the region," DBS Group Research economist Ma Tieying said.

That said, its effect was muted in Singapore as Venture Corporation shares dipped S$0.05 or 0.3 per cent to S$16.63, Hi-P International edged down S$0.01 or 0.7 per cent at S$1.43 and AEM Holdings closed at S$1.06.

On 82.8 million shares traded, Genting Singapore was the blue-chip index's most traded, closing S$0.025 or 2.7 per cent lower at S$0.91. Investors took to selling the casino operator's stock after a JPMorgan downgrade to "underweight" with a target price of S$0.83.

Much attention was on Sembcorp Marine (SembMarine) after Brazilian authorities executed a search warrant for its Brazilian subsidiary Brazilon Estaleiro Jurong Aracruz (EJA). This led to a sell-off in shares of the offshore and marine firm during Wednesday's session.

Its shares slipped to close S$0.13 or 8.4 per cent lower at S$1.41. Meanwhile, Sembcorp Industries, which has a 61 per cent stake in SembMarine, closed S$0.06 or 2.4 per cent down at S$2.41.

Wednesday's trading session also saw the debut of ST Group Food Industries Holdings on the Singapore Exchange's catalist board. The counter closed at S$0.28 with 15 million shares changing hands, up two cents or 7.7 per cent from its IPO price of S$0.26. 

The company holds exclusive regional franchise and licence rights for food and beverage brands such as Gong-Cha, Ippudo and PappaRich.