Fresh stimulus in China yesterday helped local shares pick up where they left off in last week's rally.
Last Friday, the People's Bank of China announced its sixth interest rate cut since last November in a bid to stimulate stalling economic growth, while reducing banks' reserve requirement ratio.
Several key Asian markets gained ground following the monetary easing, with Shanghai up 0.5 per cent after a somewhat volatile session that saw some profit-taking.
"The (Shanghai) market was slightly buoyed by the central bank's rate cut, but appeared to be in a correction after it rose a lot in October, and some investors sold stocks on the short-lived rise," Haitong Securities analyst Zhang Qi told Reuters in Shanghai.
Tokyo gained 0.65 per cent to hit a fresh two-month high. But Hong Kong pared 0.15 per cent and Kuala Lumpur fell 0.24 per cent.
Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) ended higher for a fifth straight day, rising 14.61 points or 0.48 per cent to 3,083.07, after a 1.2 per cent rise last week.
Still, there were some signs of a sell-off, with the STI ending below the 3,090 level that it maintained through most of the day. In all, 19 blue-chip stocks ended higher.
The top gainers were Golden Agri-Resources, which added two cents or 5.13 per cent to 41 cents, and Noble Group, which rose two cents or 3.7 per cent to 56 cents.
Since it dipped to a 12-month low on Oct 5, Noble has jumped a total of 47.4 per cent as the commodity giant continued its gradual recovery from the Iceberg saga. But balance-sheet issues still remain, with rating agency Moody's warning last week it may lose its investment- grade rating if credit issues are not resolved in the coming months.
Hutchison Port Holdings ended one US cent or 1.8 per cent higher at 56.5 US cents, following news last Friday that its net profit for the three months to Sept 30 jumped 7.2 per cent year on year. In his note yesterday, DBS analyst Paul Yong maintained his buy call for the port operator, saying customer renewals, tariff hikes and productivity efficiency gains "could help drive earnings beyond this year".
Sembcorp Industries lost the most among blue chips, sliding nine cents or 2.43 per cent to $3.61. It will announce its third-quarter results on Thursday, but investors were clearly downbeat on the group after Sembcorp Marine's third-quarter earnings plummeted 75.7 per cent year on year. As a result, shares of Sembcorp's offshore and marine unit slid five cents or 2.03 per cent to $2.41 yesterday.
Keppel Corp also ended lower, down five cents or 0.69 per cent to $7.20. "We remain cautious on the rigbuilding outlook in anticipation of sluggish order flow and prevailing deferment and cancellation risks," DBS analyst Ho Pei Hwa said, but she noted Keppel's valuation is inexpensive and offers a decent dividend yield of 5 per cent.