Bulls And Bears

Chinese rally offsets Wall Street worry

ST Index ends the day down slightly; sentiment not soothed by sliding oil prices

Singapore shares closed slightly lower yesterday after a rally in Chinese stocks helped partially offset concerns over Wall Street and still slumping oil prices.

The uncertainty left the Straits Times Index (STI) down 0.26 per cent or 7.29 points to 2,845.55.

Wall Street set the tone with a 2.1 per cent plunge on Friday while oil did not help, diving to 11-year lows.

"There was a knee-jerk reaction (yesterday) morning to Wall Street's dive. But our losses weren't too severe because of China's rally," remisier Alvin Yong said.

Shanghai rose 1.77 per cent and Shenzhen gained 0.96 per cent on speculation the government would further cut benchmark interest rates and accelerate reform of state-owned enterprises.

Two blue-chip heavyweights weighed down the STI: Singtel fell 2.4 per cent or nine cents to $3.67, while Keppel Corp lost 1.4 per cent or nine cents to $6.42.

Gainers included OCBC, which rose 0.8 per cent or seven cents to $8.75; UOB, up 0.7 per cent or 14 cents to $19.24; and Golden Agri-Resources, ahead 9.5 per cent or three cents to 34.5 cents.

Some local oil stocks rebounded despite Brent sliding to as low as US$36.17 a barrel, the lowest since 2004, as production around the world remained at or near record highs. US crude sank to US$34.49 a barrel.

Rex International jumped 6 per cent or 0.5 cent to 8.8 cents, Ezion gained 5 per cent or three cents to 63 cents and Loyz Energy surged 11.8 per cent or 0.6 cent to 5.7 cents.

Ezra Holdings gained 4.2 per cent, or 0.4 cent to 9.9 cents with nearly 40 million shares traded. The company announced yesterday that its subsea services division has won contracts worth nearly US$70 million (S$99 million), including work with a new client in the Middle East.

Telecommunications firm Global Tech (Holdings) surged 33.3 per cent after announcing on Friday that controlling shareholder Optimum Pace International has agreed to sell 2.74 billion shares to Road Shine Developments for HK$318 million (S$58 million).

The stock, which resumed trading yesterday after a halt was lifted on Friday, jumped 0.8 cent to 3.2 cents, with 21.8 million shares traded.

Terratech Group was hit with a trading query from the Singapore Exchange after its stock surged nearly 49 per cent or 1.9 cents to 5.8 cents, with 70.8 million shares traded.

Separately, HTL International, which also received a trading query yesterday, said its controlling shareholder BEM Holdings could not explain the "unusual price movement". The stock jumped 6.3 per cent or four cents to 67 cents.

HTL added that it received a notice from BEM on Dec 11 that it is in advanced talks with Guangdong Yihua Timber Industry on a deal for the possible acquisition of all HTL shares by Yihua's wholly-owned unit in Hong Kong.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2015, with the headline 'Chinese rally offsets Wall Street worry'. Print Edition | Subscribe