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Asia investors more optimistic

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Regional markets end higher, STI losses less than in recent days

Optimism returned to regional markets though the effect was somewhat negated in the local market, due to mixed earnings from index firms.

While the Straits Times Index (STI) failed to post gains, losses were less than in recent days with the benchmark index closing at 3,218.77, down 4.94 points or 0.15 per cent yesterday.

"A couple of mixed earnings from the Singapore blue-chips had weighed on the broader market and the disappointment from Chinese data released this morning did little to help," IG market strategist Pan Jingyi said.

She added that with most sectors continuing to trade lower, "a sense of caution remains in the local market".

Elsewhere in the region, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea all ended higher.

Investors in Asia had been more optimistic due to a positive showing by Wall Street on Tuesday and remarks made by the US and China that helped ease trade worries.

Among them, China's Shanghai Composite Index posted a 55.07 point or 1.9 per cent gain to close at 2,938.68.

The index's performance was helped by a depreciating Chinese yuan and hopes that Beijing would provide more stimulus for its economy following disappointing retail sales figures.

In Singapore, trading volume clocked in at 1.05 billion securities or 83 per cent of the daily average in the first four months of 2019. Meanwhile, total turnover came to $1.08 billion, 5 per cent more than the January-to-April daily average.

Across the market, advancers outpaced decliners 220 to 172. The benchmark index had 16 of the STI's 30 components trading in the red.

Among them was Singtel, which dropped two cents or 0.6 per cent to close at $3.13 on 18.6 million shares traded.

The telco reported before the market opening that fourth-quarter profit gained 0.4 per cent to $773 million, but for the full year, the bottom line was down 43 per cent, a 16-year low.


Mr Arthur Lang, Singtel's group head of international business, attributed the performance to headwinds faced by its units in India and Indonesia.

City Developments (CDL) fell 14 cents or 1.6 per cent to $8.54.

The real estate player posted a first-quarter net profit of $199.6 million and revealed plans to invest 5.5 billion yuan (S$1.1 billion) in Chinese real estate developer Sincere Property Group.

The local banks were mixed, with DBS Group Holdings finishing 19 cents or 0.7 per cent up at $26.29.

OCBC Bank was flat at $11.19 while United Overseas Bank dipped three cents or 0.1 per cent to close at $25.10.

Among the big movers on the day was Memtech International, which closed at $1.33, adding 24 cents or 22.2 per cent, with a heavier-than-usual 4.1 million shares traded.

Its shares surged after the Chuang family, which controls the electronics components manufacturer, made a voluntary conditional offer of $1.35 for each share in a bid to delist the company.

"Given that the offer for each share is at a premium over the average of Memtech's recent stock price, it presents a good exit for most shareholders, especially since the counter is not the most liquid," Azure Capital's founder and chief executive officer Terence Wong said.

Penny stocks saw heavy activity with Chasen Holdings, the most traded on the Singapore bourse with 40.5 million shares traded.

The logistics specialist advanced 0.6 cent or 6.3 per cent up to close at 10.1 cents.

Market watchers told The Business Times the trade spat between the US and China could have led to investors speculating that Chasen would benefit from firms requiring its services to relocate manufacturing facilities.

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