Singapore shares ease in sluggish trade, track regional markets

Singapore Mon Jan 20, 2014 12:03am EST

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Singapore Jan 20 (Reuters) - Singapore shares edged lower in light trading volume, echoing the muted mood of the regional market as investors remained cautious about China's economic growth.

The benchmark Straits Times Index inched down 0.4 percent to 3,135.97 point by 0439 GMT. Trading volume was just above 20 percent of its 90-day daily average turnover.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was 0.2 percent lower, after data showed the Chinese economy grew slightly faster than expected in 2013 but economists expect the pace to slow down this year.

Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust, which reported a 2.2 percent fall in DPU (distribution per unit) despite a 6.5 percent rise in net income in the third quarter of financial year 2014, rose as much as 0.9 percent to S$2.17 before paring some gains to drop to S$2.16.

Challenges facing Singapore's industrial property market are weighing down on REITs, analysts said.

"We see industrial REITs facing major downside risks from the impending hike in interest rates and possible recalibration of over-inflated property prices - both of which can drag NAV (net asset value) down," said Maybank Kim Eng in a research note.

Maybank is also concerned about the impact of a fragile global economic outlook and ample supply in the pipeline.

In other stocks, conglomerate Jardine Strategic Holdings Ltd fell 0.3 percent to S$34.1, after it announced a plan to acquire a 20 percent stake in Hong Kong-listed Zhongsheng Group Holdings, a Chinese motor dealership group, for $731 million.

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