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STI retreats 0.5% alongside muted trading in Asian markets

THE Straits Times Index (STI) fell alongside muted trading in other Asian markets on Tuesday, retreating 11.4 points or 0.46 per cent to finish at 2,471.61. In all, about 1.22 billion securities worth S$1.06 billion changed hands, with losers outnumbering gainers 244 to 178.

The index's top loser was retail company Dairy Farm International, which lost US$0.15 or 3.8 per cent to US$3.76. At one point, it fell more than 4 per cent intra-day, which was more than any full-day loss it has ever incurred since April 21 this year, according to Bloomberg data. It also came in spite of two raises to "buy" calls by RHB Research and HSBC on the counter last week.

The top performer was Keppel Corp, as it announced a strategic review of its offshore and marine (O&M) business and intention to unlock S$3 billion to S$5 billion in value of its assets over the next three years. Its shares added S$0.11 or 2.6 per cent to S$4.30.

The most active counter of the day was Sembcorp Marine, adding just S$0.001 or 0.7 per cent to S$0.144, but on a volume of close to 70 million shares traded, likely on renewed market chatter about a potential merger with Keppel's O&M division, which looks increasingly likely to come to pass. SembMarine had started trading actively starting from last week.

Regional markets finished mixed. The Hang Seng Index dipped 0.85 per cent while Malaysia's KLCI fell 0.51 per cent. The Shanghai Composite climbed 0.21 per cent, while the Nikkei 225 advanced 0.12 per cent.

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Overall, said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, Asia Pacific at Oanda, Asian stock markets are "failing to share Wall Street's exuberance, with one eye on (Tuesday night's) first US Presidential debate".

Pan Jingyi, market strategist at IG Singapore, also noted that moves in Asian markets are expected to be subdued with the US presidential election lined up ahead and potentially difficult topics, including foreign relations, being watched by investors in this part of the world.

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