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Stocks to watch: Oil, Noble, Xpress

OIL tumbled for a seventh day, extending declines from a six-year low, before US government data forecast to show crude stockpiles rose to a record in the world's biggest consumer.

Futures dropped as much as 2.4 per cent in New York. Crude inventories probably expanded by 4.4 million barrels through March 13 to 453.3 million, according to a Bloomberg News survey before a report from the Energy Information Administration on Wednesday.

Industry data showed supplies increased by 10.5 million barrels last week.

US crude stockpiles have continued to climb, even as companies idle drill rigs to the fewest since 2011, bolstering speculation a global glut that drove prices almost 50 per cent lower last year will persist. Options traders have become the most bearish in at least five years amid signs rising supply may strain the nation's storage capacity.

Noble Group, Asia's biggest commodities house, faces record bond maturities and closer scrutiny of earnings amid a global resources rout and is being punished by traders.

US dollar-denominated notes of the company, which has the lowest investment-grade scores from the three main rating companies, yield more than 400 basis points above Treasuries, compared with the 317 average for top junk-rated Asian borrowers, Bank of America Merrill Lynch indexes show.

The cost to protect the company's notes against non-payment has risen 144 basis points in the last month to 412, the worst-performing in Asia and 55 above junk-rated Australian firm Fairfax Media Ltd.

Noble had denied allegations from an anonymous group called Iceberg Research that it overstated accounting gains, and rejected a demand for unpaid compensation in a lawsuit from its former chief executive.

Mainboard-listed Xpress Holdings has reported a 51.6 per cent drop in its second-quarter net profit to S$214,000, from S$438,000 a year earlier, on the back of a 14.1 per cent drop in revenue to S$4.1 million for the quarter ended Jan 31, 2015, from a year ago.

Xpress's results report also highlighted the group's cash-flow problems - the group's working capital position was negative as at Jan 31, 2015, and the net drop in cash and cash equivalents for Q2 was S$57,000, compared to a net gain of S$5.3 million in the corresponding quarter a year ago. The group had a cash and cash equivalent deficit of S$1.34 million for H1 2015.

Its counter closed down S$0.001 to S$0.012 on Tuesday.

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