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STI manages to eke out gains

This article is more than 12 months old

Index closes 10.18 points up at 3,325.6; Genting Singapore remains the blue-chip index's most traded counter

Despite lacking local catalysts, the Singapore benchmark index managed to overturn Monday's dip to eke out gains. Yesterday, the Straits Times Index (STI) closed 10.18 points or 0.3 per cent up at 3,325.6, with 22 of the 30 blue chips that make up the STI ending in the black.

As a whole, markets in Asia ended mostly higher due to optimism about Chinese measures to boost economic growth.

The gains on the day came despite concerns about a lacklustre US earnings season and the upcoming Brexit summit.

Remisier Ernest Lim acknowledged that for equity markets to build on the first quarter's performance, the upcoming US corporate earnings season for Q1 holds key.

He said: "This is likely to be one of the main drivers of share price performance in April-May and markets may be lacklustre until we have more clarity on the earnings front."

On immediate catalysts for Asia, CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang said Japan and China data releases will be crucial to setting the tone today.

Trading clocked in at 1.15 billion securities, about 82 per cent of the daily average over the first two months of 2019.

Total turnover came to $1.07 billion, 4.6 per cent above the January-to-February daily average.

Advancers outnumbered decliners 202 to 175.

Genting Singapore remained the blue-chip index's most traded counter, ending yesterday's session down one cent or one per cent at 97 cents with 36.7 million shares changing hands.

The counter has fallen 10.3 per cent since last Wednesday's closing, prior to a sell-off the following day.

A trader told The Business Times that he did not consider shares in the casino operator to be oversold, instead seeing a change of profile of investors to those more concerned with the longer term outlook and less so with dividends in the near term.

Meanwhile, Singtel continued its steady rally, with the counter up four cents or 1.3 per cent to $3.10, a fresh high for the year.

The telco's stock has grown 5.8 per cent in 2019.

The three local banks were all in the black, with DBS Group Holdings closing 18 cents or 0.7 per cent higher at $27; OCBC Bank gained four cents or 0.3 per cent at $11.76; while United Overseas Bank closed flat at $26.50.

The financials were trading on a cum-dividend basis.

Oil prices continued to rise during the Asian session, hitting new five-month highs.

Mr Stephen Innes, SPI Asset Management's head of trading and market strategy said: "With discussions around US-China trade talks stagnant, the rally in crude oil continues to be the markets primary focus as prices remain buttressed on expectations that global supplies would tighten due to escalating conflicts in Libya, Opec-led cuts and US sanctions against Iran and Venezuela."

Black gold's rally has continued to bode well for counters like Keppel Corp, which closed seven cents or 1.1 per cent up at $6.65.

Mr Lim noted that the conglomerate's shares have not dropped from its price level in the first two months of the year unlike a number of small oil and gas counters.

Instead, Keppel has continued to gain, "breaking out of its trading range of $6 to $6.38 and trading at five to six months high", he said.

Ms Yang noted that despite the Singapore market lacking in local catalysts, "STI heavyweights Singtel, Keppel Corp and the local banks have edged to their multi-week highs".

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