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Singapore shares dip in lacklustre Thursday session

NEWS regarding Congress' vote to impeach US President Donald Trump may have found itself on the front pages of most newspapers but investors in Asia shrugged that off in what was a ho-hum Thursday session.

Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) posted a slight loss, easing 2.12 points or 0.07 per cent to 3,207.42 on Thursday.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, markets were mixed. Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and Taiwan were lower. South Korea posted gains while China was largely flat.

Going into Thursday's session, Oanda's Asia-Pacific senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley noted that barring any shock headlines, or a surprise from the Bank of Japan, which met expectations by keeping interest rates unchanged, equity markets in Asia would trade in a directionless fashion, typical of pre-Christmas trading days.

That investors seemed little affected by what transpired in Capitol Hill suggests the saga was treated as a non-event. After all, the Republicans have the majority in the Senate, so Mr Trump, who will now stand trial, is unlikely to be removed from office.

"The news about Trump's impeachment in the House provided little market reaction as his acquittal in the upcoming Senate trial is all but certain," AxiTrader chief Asia market strategist Stephen Innes said.

Trading volume here stood at 1.14 billion securities, 96 per cent of the daily average in the first 11 months of 2019. Total turnover was S$936.18 million, 87 per cent of the January-to-November daily average.

Across the local market, decliners pipped advancers 198 to 195. Half of the benchmark's 30 counters ended in the red.

Among STI counters, shares in Thai Beverage dropped S$0.01 or 1.1 per cent to 88.5 cents. The brewer dispelled international and Vietnamese media reports that it was looking for buyers of its business interests in Vietnam.

That said, ThaiBev reaffirmed late Wednesday that it was looking to list some of its regional beer assets in Singapore but the process is still in the early stages. ThaiBev is still the best-performing counter on the blue-chip index, gaining 45 per cent this year.

Singtel shares fell S$0.03 or 0.9 per cent to S$3.28. Since going ex-dividend on Wednesday, the telco has dropped 3 per cent.

Among companies in the second line, agribusiness player Japfa fell 2.5 Singapore cents or 4.3 per cent to S$0.55 after revealing that it intends to undertake a renounceable non-underwritten rights issue of one rights share for every 10 existing ordinary shares, at an issue price of S$0.50 for each rights share.

Meanwhile, shares in water treatment firm Moya Holdings jumped as much as 13.4 per cent on Thursday on relatively heavy volume in the early session before trading was halted with shares up 0.7 Singapore cent or 10.5 per cent at 7.4 cents. The 25.4 million shares traded are more than 13 times the average volume for the past month.