STI closes up while focus is on Budget, Latest Business News - The New Paper

STI closes up while focus is on Budget

This article is more than 12 months old

Advancers outnumber decliners 214 to 176 as 1.47 billion securities worth $929.84 million change hands

No prizes for guessing that most attention in Singapore was placed on Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat's delivery of the Budget for 2019.

But markets never sleep, at least not from 9am to 5pm in Singapore's case. Trade activity on the day saw the Singapore bourse's daily average turnover clock in at roughly 1.47 billion securities worth $929.84 million. Advancers outnumbered decliners 214 to 176.

Markets in the region started the week with broad gains on the back of thawing US-China relations following trade talks in Beijing that had sent Wall Street's closing higher on Friday.

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index (STI) closed 26.23 points or 0.8 per cent higher to 3,265.97. The benchmark index has gained 6.4 per cent since closing at 3,068.76 on Dec 31 last year.

The most actively traded stock was Thomson Medical, which closed 0.2 cent or 2.6 per cent higher at 80 cents with 70.4 million shares changing hands.

Of the 30 STI constituents, five counters ended the day in the red with index-listed companies also among the day's most heavily traded.

ThaiBev was the blue-chip index's most traded of the day, closing 0.5 cent or 0.6 per cent higher at 82 cents with a trading volume of 37.6 million shares.

CMC Market's market analyst Margaret Yang told BT that the counter's performance was likely a result of profit-taking activities after closing out Friday with strong gains.

The STI's performance on the day had a good deal to do with Singapore's bellwether banking stocks. DBS Group Holdings, which posted its fiscal 2018 earnings yesterday, closed 41 cents or 1.7 per cent higher at $25.20.

Jefferies equity analyst Krishna Guha said the results read well for its peers despite street expectations for them being lower. The brokerage maintains a "buy" call on DBS with a target price of $28.50.

Ms Yang also acknowledged the effect that DBS's earnings had on the STI, which together with Singapore's other banking stalwarts constitute around 40 per cent of the index. OCBC Bank added 19 cents or 1.6 per cent up to $11.71; and United Overseas Bank closed 19 cents or 0.7 per cent higher at $25.87.

"Bank shares evidently had the trade hopes boost to glean as well," said IG market strategist Pan Jingyi.

Singapore Airlines gained 19 cents or 2 per cent to close at $9.95 following a Q4 profit that beat market expectations.

However, the day kicked off with what many commentators considered a weak showing for Singapore's non-oil domestic exports.

Ms Nur Raisah Rasid, of the economic and policy research team at JPMorgan emerging markets Asia, said that the figures for January highlighted lingering tech exports weakness.

It was a mixed bag for export-oriented tech companies as Venture Corp closed 11 cents or 0.7 per cent higher at $16.21 but UMS Holdings dropped one cent or 1.5 per cent to 66 cents.

Ms Yang said: "This suggests that either the market had not fully digested the news, or the worst has already been factored in during last year's sell-off."

Shares in Best World dropped 54 cents or 16.6 per cent to $2.71 during Monday's early session before the skincare-maker and distributor requested for a trading halt in its shares at 11.23am pending an announcement.

Buoyed by the positivity emanating from last week's trade talks in Beijing, markets in Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, China, Malaysia and South Korea all ended the day higher.

Understandably, the market with the most to gain - the Shanghai market - fared best. The Shanghai Composite Index closed 71.97 points or 2.7 per cent higher at 2,754.36.