Asian bourses upbeat on firmer oil prices, holiday cheer; STI closes 14 points up

The Straits Times Index inched up 13.97 points to 2,877.62, ahead of the Christmas holiday.
The Straits Times Index inched up 13.97 points to 2,877.62, ahead of the Christmas holiday. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Asian bourses mostly made further headway on Thursday (Dec 24) in shortened trading sessions to firmer oil prices and holiday cheer.

The Straits Times Index (STI) was not left out of the party, inching up 13.97 points, or 0.49 per cent, to 2,877.62 before trading ended for the day at 12.30 pm.

It was up 0.9 per cent for the week.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong climbed for the fourth consecutive session, up 0.4 per cent, while Sydney rose 1.3 per cent and Seoul advanced 0.2 per cent.

Shanghai, however, continued to see pressure, dragged down by healthcare and property companies amid thin turnover.

Tokyo, which resumed trading after a public holiday, lost 0.5 per cent in early trade.

Wall Street gained 1.1 per cent overnight as energy shares surged the most in almost three months on the back of a rebound in Brent prices from 11-year lows.

"The gains in oil and materials are certainly helping the market dig itself out of the hole," Mr Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments, told Bloomberg. "Consumer spending looks good, and it bodes well for the economy."

Still, IG market strategist Bernard Aw maintains that the fundamentals in the oil markets "remain quite bearish, with the supply glut probably going to worsen as we enter next year. There is definitely room for more declines".

At home, palm oil giant Golden Agri-Resources emerged among the winners, jumping 1 cent or 2.9 per cent to 35 cents.

Lenders also fared well, led by OCBC Bank, which climbed 8 cents or 0.9 per cent to S$8.85.

DBS Group Holdings added 10 cents or 0.6 per cent to S$16.64, while United Overseas Bank edged up 1 cent or 0.05 per cent to S$19.40.

On the other hand, commodity trader Noble Group sank half a cent or 1.1 per cent to 45.5 cents, erasing earlier gains. The firm sold its remaining 49 per cent in its agriculture unit to China's Cofco Corp for at least US$750 million (S$1.05 billion) this week.

Outside of the STI, Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust (Reit) rose 3 cents or 1.3 per cent to S$2.28, after announcing that it has expressed interest to buy a logistics property in Sydney for A$76.6 million (S$77.9 million).

Precision engineering company Interplex Holdings soared 8 cents or 11.3 per cent to 79 cents, following a takeover offer from Baring Private Equity Asia.

Catalist-listed Vashion was the day's most active counter, with 23.9 million shares changing hands. The stock ended flat at 0.1 cents.

Trading across the bourse came up to 547.4 million shares worth S$377.7 million.

Most major markets, including Singapore, are closed for Christmas on Friday, excluding Japan and Shanghai, and will reopen on Monday.

tsjwoo@sph.com.sg