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Stocks to watch: Noble, OCBC, CRT, Manulife US Reit

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INVESTORS looking to ride the feel-good factor from a continued rally on Wall Street overnight are greeted with a mixed bag of earnings results from Singapore Inc.

Noble Group could, however, see some trading interest again on market rumours that China's Sinochem is in early talks with the group to buy an equity stake in the embattled trader to gain access to the commodity trader's global supply chain.

The discussions are taking place as Noble looks to rejig its business units, cut debt and boost liquidity to fight a long-term downtrend in commodity prices.

Among mixed report cards, OCBC Group on Tuesday reported an 18 per cent drop in net profit to S$789 million for the fourth quarter ended Dec 31, 2016, dragged down by both net interest income and non-interest income, as well as higher allowances for loans and impairment.

Among Reits and business trusts, Croesus Retail Trust (CRT) posted a 5.2 per cent rise in distribution per unit (DPU) for the second quarter ended Dec 31, 2016, to 1.81 Singapore cents, from a restated DPU of 1.72 cents in the year-ago period. This came on the back of an enlarged portfolio due to acquisitions. The restated DPU reflects an enlarged unit base arising from a preferential offering in August.

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Offering an exposure to pure US office play, Manulife US Reit beat its own forecast by 3.6 per cent by posting a fourth-quarter distribution per unit (DPU) of 1.54 US cents on Monday. Its DPU of 3.55 US cents for the period from the date of listing on May 20 to Dec 31, 2016, also exceeded its forecast by 4.8 per cent. This came on the back of higher-than-expected net property income. This has prompted brokerages, including RHB Research Institute, to maintain a "buy" call.

Two companies - Ezra Holdings and The Stratech Group - requested for trading halt on Tuesday morning before market's opening, citing the pending release of announcements.

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