THE local market buckled under selling pressure and profit-taking after strong gains in recent days and retreated from the 3,000-point milestone breached two weeks ago.
The benchmark Straits Times Index shed 15.22 points or 0.51 per cent to 2,978.84 with about 1.64 billion shares worth $1.33 billion changing hands, a moderate drop from Wednesday.
Most regional markets suffered the same fate after a strong showing in recent weeks. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was down 1.35 per cent, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 1 per cent and Japan's Nikkei 225 by 0.16 per cent.
'It was always going to be a difficult day with a mixture of good and bad news to digest from overnight trade in the (United States) and Europe,' said Mr Jason Hughes, IG Markets' head of premium client management.
News of promising American growth numbers and fresh funding for European banks was cancelled out by fading hopes of a third round of quantitative easing in the US and rising oil prices, he added.
Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke warned of slow progress ahead on job creation while pouring cold water on perceptions that positive data in recent months signalled a strong recovery in the world's largest economy.
The movers here included Raffles Education, which climbed two cents or 4.35 per cent to 48 cents.
The operator of fashion design schools said it will sell properties in China for US$159 million (S$199 million).
Yangzijiang Shipbuilding fell four cents or 2.94 per cent to $1.32. It had announced a 24 per cent jump in quarterly net profit, beating estimates.
OSK-DMG Research said oversupply of vessels and excess shipbuilding capacity in China could hurt the sector's profitability.
Oceanus Group plunged 1.7 cents or 16.35 per cent to 8.7 cents. The abalone breeder reported deep losses for the final quarter due to fair value losses in biological assets. The group is investigating the death of millions of abalone and has sacked the chief executive.
Neptune Orient Lines gained 5.5 cents or 4.1 per cent to $1.395. The counter took a beating last week after announcing the biggest quarterly loss in over a decade. There are signs freight rates are firming up so investors could be warming up again to the company's shares.
City Developments slipped 13 cents or 1.17 per cent to $11. 'While management's execution continues to be spot on, the share price has appreciated 25 per cent year to date,' said OCBC Investment Research.
'We believe the risk-reward proposition now appears unfavourable given persistent uncertainties in the domestic residential sector.'
Wilmar International fell seven cents or 1.4 per cent to $5.04. The stock has taken a beating since the release of its quarterly results.
SingTel lost four cents or 1.3 per cent to $3.13.