STOCKS NEWS SINGAPORE-Index set to post best yearly gain since 2009

Last Updated: Mon, Dec 31, 2012 04:40 hrs

Singapore shares slipped by midday, snapping four straight sessions of gains, as the deadline to reach a budget deal to avoid a "fiscal cliff" in the United States closed in without an agreement.

By 0356 GMT, the Straits Times Index (STI) was down 0.8 percent at 3,167.78 points. The index has gained 20.6 percent since the start of the year, its best yearly rise since 2009, when it surged 64 percent. The STI also outperformed the MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan's 12.6 percent rise this year.

Singapore's key index was boosted by strong gains in property companies. CapitaMalls Asia Ltd, the shopping mall arm of CapitaLand Ltd, was the biggest gainer this year, surging 73 percent. CapitaLand gained nearly 70 percent, while warehouse operator Global Logistic Properties Ltd jumped 56 percent.

Property stocks outperformed in Singapore due to their attractive valuations compared with their restate net asset values. Property prices have also remained surprisingly resilient despite government measures to cool the housing market. The FT ST Real Estate Index surged 48 percent this year.

Real estate industrial trusts (REITs) listed in Singapore also had a strong year, with the key index jumping 37 percent as investors sought dividend stocks for their stable income.

Frasers Commercial Trust was the biggest gainer among REITs, jumping 77.5 percent, while CapitaCommercial Trust rose 60.2 percent.

U.S. President Barack Obama met both Democrat and Republican lawmakers on Friday with just days left to reach a budget deal to avert massive tax increases and spending cuts that could drag the U.S. economy, the world's biggest, into recession.

Property company SC Global Developments Ltd fell nearly 4 percent by midday, after its chairman and chief executive officer said it would not raise his offer price to buy the remaining stake in the developer.

1209 (0409 GMT)

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