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STI falls for fourth straight session

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It ends 0.3 per cent, or 10.41 points, lower at 3,043.19, weighed down by external factors, especially rising US interest rates

Singapore stocks fell for a fourth straight session yesterday, dampened by a mix of external factors including a softer earnings season, falling crude oil prices and rising US interest rates.

The recent earning season has failed to deliver much in the way of positive surprises, said CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang.

Singapore Airlines (SIA) was the latest large cap to report tumbling earnings.

The national carrier reported after Tuesday's market close that the 81 per cent fall in its second-quarter earnings was caused by a mix of higher jet fuel costs and recognition of its share of losses in 20 per cent-owned Virgin Australia.

Maybank Kim Eng and DBS Group Research yesterday both put out "hold" calls on SIA at target prices of $9.80 and $10.20 respectively, citing earnings which were below expectations.

SIA's counter finished at $9.41 yesterday at the closing bell, down 0.11 per cent or one cent.

Externally, the global economic outlook for next year is softening, and the Asia Pacific region has started to see negative earnings revisions and decelerated top-line growth, she said, adding that several institutions have warned of a slower pace of growth in the coming quarters.

It was another day of mixed trading across Asia as regional equities took cues from US indices overnight, with the Dow and S&P500 ending lower on Tuesday and the Nasdaq ending flat.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 ended 0.16 per cent higher on short-covering in electronics component makers and tech shares, while South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.15 per cent on falling oil prices.

Over in the South China Sea, the Hang Seng ended 0.54 per cent lower, while the Shanghai Composite lost 0.85 per cent.

At home, the key Straits Times Index (STI) ended 0.3 per cent, or 10.41 points, down to 3,043.19 yesterday, with major counters slipping across the board.

Conglomerate Keppel Corp shed 1.43 per cent to $6.19, while City Developments fell 1.91 per cent to $8.23.

Decliners outnumbered advancers 223 to 146, on turnover of some 1.81 billion shares worth $1.03 billion in total.

The most actively traded counter was consumer healthcare company Cordlife, with 109.2 million shares changing hands, rising 13.1 per cent, or 5.5 cents, to 47.5 cents.

OCBC Bank shed 0.71 per cent, or eight cents, to $11.14, while DBS eased 0.52 per cent, or 12 cents, to $23.20.

United Overseas Bank ended 0.41 per cent, or 10 cents, lower at $24.10.

ST Engineering was buoyed by a better Q3, finishing 1.16 per cent, or four cents, higher to $3.50.

Improved bottom line contributions from its aerospace, electronics and land systems helped boost net profit.

In property, Cromwell European Reit ended 0.98 per cent up, or 0.5 euro (78 Singapore cents), to 0.515 euro after reporting a forecast-beating distribution per unit of 3.61 euro cents.

Agri-food firm Olam International, however, dived 5.09 per cent, or nine cents, to $1.68 after reporting that its Q3 earnings fell 14.2 per cent on difficult trading conditions.

External factors, especially rising US interest rates, have weighed on the local stock market, said Mr Toby Wu, senior analyst at investment platform eToro.

"There is a great potential for US policies to be changed during the midterm elections period", he said, which could result in severe trade frictions following the uncertainty of the election results.

For full listings of SGX prices, go to http://btd.sg/BTmkts