STOCKS NEWS SINGAPORE-Index down; Olam trades above pre-Muddy Waters level

Wed Mar 20, 2013 5:00am GMT

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Singapore shares were slightly down after a bailout plan for Cyprus fell into disarray, but Olam International Ltd rose to a four-month high to trade above the level before the commodities firm was attacked by short-seller Muddy Waters LLC.

The Straits Times Index was down 0.2 percent at 3,261.38, while MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.3 percent.

The biggest decliners on the index were Singapore Press Holdings and Singapore Telecommunications Ltd , which fell more than 1 percent each.

Olam shares jumped as much as 2.6 percent to S$1.76 with 13 million shares traded, 1.7 times the average full-day volume over the past 30 days. Olam had plunged as much as 22 percent after Muddy Waters criticised its accounting practices, high debt levels and investment projects in late November.

But the stock had recovered after Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings supported Olam's rights issue and raised its stake to become the company's biggest shareholder.

Last month, Olam reported a 20 percent rise in second-quarter net profit and said it will review its business priorities and free cash flow targets. The company expects to announce the result of the review in the second half of April.

"The strategic review has partly boosted investors' confidence, but investors are adopting a wait-and-see attitude towards Olam to see if it can generate enough cashflow from the investments," a trader said.

1252 (0452 GMT)

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