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Singapore Shares End Flat In Quiet Session Before Holiday

04/30/2012 | 06:09am US/Eastern

Singapore shares closed flat Monday after a lackluster session that saw low-volume trade, as many market participants stayed away from their desks ahead of a public holiday in Singapore Tuesday.

Despite gains for major markets across most of the region following some upbeat earnings results in the U.S. on Friday, the local market slipped a little in a technical move, following four straight sessions of gains last week.

The benchmark Straits Times Index closed 0.1%, or 3.01 points, lower at 2,978.57, well off its intraday low of 2,966.53. Markets in Singapore will be closed Tuesday for the Labour Day public holiday.

"It's mainly profit-taking and some worries about U.S. GDP that's taking the index down a little bit," said Lee Kok Joo, head of research at Phillip Securities.

"U.S. GDP did not come in as strongly as expected and that might weigh a little bit," he added. He expects the STI to find support at the 2,950 level, with 3,000 posing resistance.

Losers outnumbered gainers 257 to 149 and volumes were lower at 2.36 billion shares compared with 3.34 billion Friday. The value of shares traded amounted to S$1.27 billion, steady from Friday's level.

Container shipper Neptune Orient Lines was the day's top-performing blue chip, closing up 2.5% at S$1.235, in a rebound following a recent selloff.

The gains coincided with a report from OCBC Investment Research, which said there has been a disconnect between NOL's stock price and container freight rates, with the former falling 17% from the recent S$1.45 high hit on April 3.

"The correction...does not seem warranted. The SCFI (Shanghai Containerised Freight Index) is currently 43% higher than this time last year," the house noted, while upgrading its investment rating on the stock to Buy from Hold.

Singapore Telecommunications, or SingTel, ended up 0.6% at S$3.12 in above-average volume trade, recovering from its 1.3% decline on Friday, which came on confirmation the company had sold its entire 4% stake in Taiwan's Far EasTone Telecommunications, raising approximately S$339 million.

Carey Wong, an analyst at OCBC, said the counter had been oversold on Friday following the news.

Among other actively traded blue chips, banks ended mixed, with DBS Group down 0.3% at S$13.96 while Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. added 0.1% to S$8.96 and United Overseas Bank gained 1.3% to S$19.25.

-By Matthew Allen, Dow Jones Newswires; +65 64154 158; matthew.allen@dowjones.com

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