Singapore stocks fall as lenders drag; Asia subdued

Geopolitical risks exacerbated after North Korea's missile launch.

sgx trader
A trader looks at electronic screens on the dealing floor at DBS Bank's new headquarters in Singapore. REUTERS

Singapore equities declined 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.

The Straits Times Index fell 0.72 percent or 23 points to 3,225. 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 down 1.7 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

Other laggards included skincare products maker Best World International falling 1.5 percent and palm oil company Golden-Agri Resources declining 1.3 percent.

Among the gainers, chemical maker Jiutian Chemical added 4.8 percent while commodity trader Noble Group surged 36 percent.

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

About 2 billion shares worth S$1.1 billion changed hands, with losers outnumbering gainers 222 to 200.