Lenders drag Straits Times lower amid subdued Asia

Geopolitical risks exacerbate after North Korea's missile launch .

SGX Logo. Reuters

Singapore equities edged lower on Thursday after a stellar rally in the previous session on the back of selling pressure in financial stocks such as OCBC Bank, while weak Asian cues weighed on the sentiment.

Asian equities tread lower after minutes from the Federal Reserve's last meeting showed a lack of consensus about when to shrink the central bank's balance sheet and how to approach policy strategy in a time of low inflation.

Geopolitical risks were exacerbated after North Korea's missile launch raised worries the reclusive nation is planning to build a device to attack mainland United States.

At 0603 GMT, the Straits Times Index fell 0.24 percent or 8 points to 3,240. It ended 1.2 percent higher on Wednesday, taking the year-to-date gains to 12.8 percent.

Lenders were the biggest drag on the SGX, with Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp and United Overseas Bank dropping down 1.1 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Other laggards included skincare products maker Best World International down 1.5 percent and palm oil company Golden-Agri Resources falling 0.5 percent.

Among the gainers, chemical maker Jiutian Chemical surged 9.5 percent while commodity trader Noble Group gained 20 percent.

Shares of Disa, a maker of foundry machinery and filters, rose for a second straight session, gaining 7.6 percent.

About 1.2 billion shares worth S$521 million changed hands, with losers outnumbering gainers 179 to 160.