Singapore shares slipped to the lowest in more than two months, weighed by Noble Group Ltd following reports that its vice-chairman, Harry Banga, is selling up to 225 million shares in the commodities trader.
The Straits Times Index was down 0.6 percent at 2,989.16, while MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan was 0.3 percent higher.
Noble shares fell as much as 8.2 percent to S$1.07, the lowest since Aug. 3. More than 287 million shares changed hands, 8.8 times the average full-day volume over the past 30 days. Noble was the top traded stock by value in Singapore on Wednesday.
Banga is offering up to 225 million shares at a range of S$1.10-S$1.12 each, a source with the knowledge of the plans said on Monday.
"There's market talk that because vice-chairman Harry Banga is selling shares, some people are reading it as uncertainty about the company's outlook," said Lee Wen Ching, an analyst at CIMB Research.
"But I think that individual decisions to buy or sell shares is a personal decision and could be due to factors such as retirement planning. So I don't see this sale as an indication of weaker profits in the near term."
Last week, Noble said it swung to a net profit of $75 million from a net loss of $17.5 million a year earlier, but the third-quarter earnings still came below analyst expectations.
Shares of Singapore Telecommunications Ltd fell as much as 1.3 percent after it reported a 1.6 percent fall in second-quarter net profit and flagged a drop in group revenue this fiscal year due to its Australian unit Optus.
(Reporting by Eveline Danubrata in Singapore; Editing by Jijo Jacob; firstname.lastname@example.org)
09:37 STOCKS NEWS SINGAPORE-Genting shares drop, brokers cut target prices
Shares in Genting Singapore Plc fell to a 27-month low after it posted weak third-quarter results, prompting analysts to cut their target prices or downgrade ratings on the casino operator.
By 0118 GMT, Genting Singapore shares were flat at S$1.235, recovering from an intraday low of S$1.20. Since the start of the year, they have fallen 18.5 percent, compared with a 12.9 percent gain in the Straits Times Index.
Genting Singapore, which owns one of Singapore's two multi-billion-dollar casino complexes, said on Monday its third-quarter core earnings fell 19 percent to S$303.2 million from a year ago.
CIMB Research downgraded Genting Singapore to 'neutral' from 'outperform' and cut its target price to S$1.20 from S$1.60, citing worse-than-expected quarterly earnings due to rising costs and weak gaming revenue.
"We previously believed that the poor second-quarter results were one-off but it does look like the business is going through a difficult transition," said CIMB in a report.
The brokerage is cutting its earnings per share forecast for Genting Singapore in 2012 by 15 percent, to reflect additional pre-opening costs for the rest of Resorts World Sentosa's theme park.
RHB Research cut its target price on Genting Singapore to S$1.15 from S$1.20 and maintained its 'underperform' rating, citing a lower-than-expected EBITDA margin of 45.9 percent in the third quarter and poor VIP win rate of 2.8 percent in the same period, compared with 3.2 percent a year ago.