Singapore Market May Run Out Of Steam On Thursday

( – The Singapore stock market has finished higher in two straight sessions, gathering almost 10 points or 0.3 percent along the way. The Straits Times Index settled just below the 3,420-point plateau, although the market is looking at a soft start on Thursday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is broadly negative, with technology stocks in particular expected to come under fire following analyst comments raising concerns about weak demand for desktop computer processors and currency headwinds. The European and U.S. markets were firmly in the red, and the Asian markets figure to follow suit.

The STI finished slightly higher on Wednesday as gains from the financial shares and airlines were capped by weakness from the property and plantation sectors.

For the day, the index gained 5.76 points or 0.17 percent to finish at 3,419.02 after trading between 3,404.63 and 3,422.72. Volume was 1.05 billion shares worth 1.02 billion Singapore dollars. There were 240 gainers and 167 decliners, with 522 stocks finishing unchanged.

Among the actives, Keppel Corp climbed 1.13 percent, while CapitaLand shed 1.11 percent, Hongkong Land fell 0.94 percent, SIA added 0.42 percent, United Overseas Bank collected 0.61 percent, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation gained 0.28 percent, SingTel advanced 0.70 percent, Wilmar International dipped 0.31 percent and Genting Singapore tumbled 1.06 percent.

The lead from Wall Street suggests consolidation as stocks moved sharply lower on Wednesday – particularly among the technology stocks – adding to the losses in the previous session.

The Dow tumbled 292.60 points or 1.6 percent to 17,718.54, while the NASDAQ plunged 118.21 points or 2.4 percent to 4,876.52 and the S&P 500 slumped 30.45 points or 1.5 percent to 2,061.05.

Semiconductor stocks saw some of the worst performances, dragging the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index down 4.6 percent to its lowest closing level in well over a month. There was also considerable weakness among biotech stocks, as reflected by the 4.4 percent loss posted by the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index.

Most of the other major sectors also came under pressure, although, energy stocks bucked the downtrend amid a significant increase by the price of crude oil. Crude for May delivery jumped $ 1.70 to $ 49.21 a barrel.

On the economic front, the Commerce Department reported an unexpected drop in durable goods orders in February, which tumbled 1.4 percent following a downwardly revised 2.0 percent increase in January.

Closer to home, Singapore will release February data for industrial production later today, with analysts expecting an increase of 1.3 percent on month and a decline of 2.2 percent on year. That follows the 4.7 percent monthly decline and the 0.9 percent annual increase in January.

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