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Singapore shares slip 0.1% on Tuesday amid lack of market cues

THE Singapore market slipped on Tuesday as investors in Asia were weighed down by sentiment that the Chinese government could slow the pace of policy easing following better-than-expected economic performance. The lack of market catalysts also meant that investors were booking profits.

On Tuesday, The Straits Times Index (STI) closed at 3,353.47, down 4.23 points or 0.13 per cent.

Trading clocked in at 1.00 billion securities, 79 per cent of the daily average over the first three months of 2019. Total turnover came to S$886.18 million, 87 per cent of the January-to-March daily average. Across the market, decliners outnumbered advancers 228 to 165.

Bucking the trend on the day were the oil and gas, and offshore and marine sectors. Sembcorp Industries (up three cents or 1.1 per cent to S$2.76), SembMarine (up eight cents or 4.7 per cent to S$1.79) and Rex International (up 0.2 Singapore cent or 2.5 per cent to 8.1 cents) outperformed the benchmark index.

The counters were given a lift by an oil supply squeeze that sent black gold to new six-month highs during the Asian session. This comes after the US formally announced the end of Iran sanction waivers from May 1. Oil prices may yet increase with Iran threatening to blockade the Strait of Hormuz in order to stop the flow of seaborne oil exports from the Middle East. 

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Compared to the broader market, the benchmark index fared better on the day, with 15 of the STI's 30 components ending in the black.

Among them, Thai Beverage Public Company was the blue-chip index's most traded for the second session running. The food and beverage player closed 0.5 Singapore cent or 0.6 per cent up at 83.5 cents with 44.96 million shares changing hands.

The local banks were mixed on Tuesday. DBS Group Holdings closed three cents or 0.1 per cent down at S$27.42. Meanwhile, OCBC Bank finished five cents or 0.4 per cent higher at S$11.83 and United Overseas Bank added three cents or 0.1 per cent to end at S$26.99.

A trader told The Business Times that the local banks and big-cap index stocks were already trading at "toppish" levels after their rally this year, which could explain why some investors took to booking profits.

"I anticipate that more investors will be exiting positions in May," he added.

Among non-STI counters, Global Invacom Group (GInva) shares added 0.3 Singapore cent or 4.8 per cent to close at 6.6 cents. 

GInva's share price closed 50 per cent higher on Monday after the satellite communications equipment provider and Tactilis Pte Ltd mutually terminated a deal for the latter's Malaysian subsidiary.

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