Singapore shares ease ahead of key US data

Fri Dec 6, 2013 1:02am EST

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SINGAPORE, Dec 6 - Singapore shares softened on Friday, headed for their biggest weekly loss in two months, as investors awaited a key US job market report due later in the day that is expected to indicate how soon the Federal Reserve would scale back its monetary stimulus.

The benchmark Straits Times Index fell 0.4 percent to 3,113.15 by 0523 GMT, on course for a weekly decline of 2 percent, outpacing a 1.7 percent fall in MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan.

Trading volume was less than half of the 30-day daily average volume.

Year-to-date, Singapore's Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) index has dropped 14 percent, after a nearly 40 percent surge in 2012. Investors started to move out of high-dividend plays such as REITs, a favourite in the low interest environment following the global financial crisis, on expectations of tapering of the Fed's monetary stimulus and an increase in interest rates.

"We are particularly negative on Industrial REITs, as asset prices have the most room to fall, given how much they have escalated over the past four years post GFC (global financial crisis)," said Maybank Kim Eng analysts in a research note.

Blumont Group Ltd, one of the three companies whose share prices crashed in early October after a huge run-up earlier in the year, requested a halt in trading of its shares after a local newspaper reported that South African coal miner South African coal miner Resource Generation Ltd was taking action to obtain funds that Blumont has not yet paid the firm.

Blumont fell to S$0.067 earlier in the day, the lowest since October 2012, down from an all-time high of S$2.54 hit in October.

Hutchison Port Holdings Trust, which dropped to a near two-year low of $0.64 in the previous session, rebounded over 2 percent to an intra-day high of $0.66.

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