SINGAPORE, April 23 (Reuters) - Singapore stocks fell on Wednesday, led lower by the banking sector, with sentiment muted after data from China showed manufacturing activity shrinking for a fourth straight month.
The benchmark Straits Times Index was down 0.6 percent at 3,258.6, on course for its biggest daily loss in nearly 5 weeks. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan shed 0.4 percent.
Manufacturing activity in China shrank in April, signaling economic weakness into the second quarter, a preliminary survey showed on Wednesday, although the pace of decline eased helped by policy steps to arrest the slowdown.
Banks fared poorly, with the sector edging down 2.8 percent. DBS led losses, inching down as much as 1.4 percent, while UOB and OCBC were down 1.3 percent and 0.1 percent respectively.
Keppel Corp Ltd saw a sharp 3.6 percent drop to S$10.61 as it was trading on the first day after paying its dividend.
“We saw pretty strong gains last week, but there was very little news in the local markets this week,” said Carey Wong, an analyst from OCBC Investment Research.
“The recent Chinese manufacturing gauge wasn’t strong either, so there was more profit-taking.”
He added that market sentiment in the following days will depend on the results of company earnings reports for the first quarter due next week, including the three banks. (Reporting by Andrew Toh; Editing by Himani Sarkar)