Bulls And Bears

Asian markets perk up as focus shifts to US

All eyes on any hint of Fed interest rate hike; SGX among top gainers as ST Index edges up

Asian bourses mostly chalked up gains yesterday as attention shifted away from the turmoil in the Chinese markets to renewed speculation about a United States interest rate hike.

The Singapore market edged up, with the Straits Times Index adding 2.91 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 3,284, with 1.95 billion shares worth $901.4 million traded.

Expect more activity today. Investors have been looking for clues about when the US rate increase will occur so any hints made by the Federal Open Market Committee early this morning Singapore time will be eagerly seized by traders.

Wall Street was not waiting. A show of strong corporate earnings allowed the Dow Jones Industrial Average to halt a five-day losing streak and rise 1.09 per cent overnight.

"Often when a lot of stocks get washed out, we get a rebound," Mr Nader Naeimi, Sydney-based head of dynamic asset allocation at AMP Capital Investors, told Bloomberg.

"The Fed will be focused on global conditions. What's happening globally can't be totally ignored."

This optimism was carried over to the region. A calmer mood in China saw the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index jump 3.44 per cent, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong added 0.47 per cent but Japan's Nikkei 225 Index slipped 0.13 per cent.

Bourse operator Singapore Exchange was one of the top gainers, rising 16 cents or 1.98 per cent to close at $8.23.

It delivered its full-year results after the market closed, posting a 9 per cent increase in net profit to $348.6 million from the same period a year ago.

Two of the local banks fared well too, with OCBC Bank adding seven cents or 0.68 per cent to $10.34, while DBS Group inched up one cent or 0.05 per cent to $21.

Singapore Post, which announced a solid set of first-quarter results before the market opened, climbed 1.5 cents or 0.79 per cent to $1.92.

On the other side of the ledger, offshore and marine heavyweights Keppel Corporation and Sembcorp Marine took a hammering.

KepCorp sank 11 cents or 1.38 per cent to $7.84, marking its lowest close since October 2011, while SembMarine shaved two cents or 0.73 per cent to $2.71, a level not seen since the global financial crisis in 2009.

Oil prices are still under pressure, with crude benchmark Brent at about US$52 a barrel after plunging by more than half from June last year.

Commodities play Golden Agri- Resources slid 1.5 cents or 4.41 per cent to 32.5 cents, extending its biggest losses in six years.

Stratech Group, which supplies technology-based surveillance and transportation systems, was the most active counter of the day, with 109.2 million shares changing hands. The stock surged 0.9 cent or 19.15 per cent to 5.6 cents.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2015, with the headline 'Asian markets perk up as focus shifts to US'. Print Edition | Subscribe