Singapore index heads for first weekly loss in three weeks

Reuters

Nov 1 (Reuters) - Singapore stocks fell for a second day onFriday, on course for a weekly decline for the first time inthree weeks, while shares in Singapore's top two lenders easedas investors remained wary of uncertain outlook even after thebanks reported better-than-expected results.

The benchmark Straits Times Index was down 0.4 percent at3,197.17 by 0843 GMT, while the MSCI's broadest index ofAsia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.2percent.

DBS Group Holdings Ltd, Southeast Asia's biggestlender, edged down 0.4 percent to S$16.67 in quiet trading,easing from a six-week high of S$16.84 earlier in the week.

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp, Singapore'ssecond-biggest lender, fell 0.6 percent to S$10.34, after havingtouched a 1-1/2-week low of S$10.32 earlier in the day.

Singapore's banks have benefited from solid growth inlending over the past few quarters, though they face a tougheroutlook on housing loans after the government introducedmeasures to cool the city state's overheated property market.

Commodities firm Noble Group Ltd and palm oilproducer Golden Agri-Resources Ltd were the worstperformers on the index. Shares of Noble dropped 3.4 percent toa two-week low at S$0.99. Golden Agri shares fell as much as 1.7percent to S$0.58 after surging to a record seven-month high onThursday.

Singapore's SMRT Corp Ltd plunged to a record lowin six years after the transport operator reported a 56.8percent decline in net income to S$14.4 million ($11.6 million)for the second quarter ended September due to lack of fareincrease in an escalating cost environment.

SMRT shares fell as much as 3.1 percent to S$1.26, with 1.2million shares traded, about 1.7 times its average 30-dayfull-day volume.

"While a change to the business model appears imminent, wecaution against turning positive on the stock as terms for thetransition remains highly uncertain," Maybank Kim Eng analystssaid in a research note.

Maybank has a "sell" rating on SMRT shares with a targetprice of S$0.80.

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