Bulls And Bears

Export rebound gives STI welcome lift

Lacklustre week for local shares ends with optimism; rise mirrors US indices surge

Local equities bounced back yesterday after sterling export figures for last month sent a jolt of optimism through investors.

The Straits Times Index (STI) closed up 41.08 points, or 1.23 per cent, to 3,382.38, after sagging over a lacklustre week as the earnings reporting season winds down.

Gainers outnumbered losers 257 to 181, on a turnover of nearly 2.3 billion shares worth $1.29 billion.

The rise in the STI mirrored a surge in United States indices, after Republicans pushed forward with their corporate tax reform agenda.

The Dow finished up 0.8 per cent on Thursday, while the S&P was higher by 0.82 per cent, and the Nasdaq rose 1.3 per cent.

CMC Markets Singapore analyst Margaret Yang said in a morning note: "With positive sentiments from the US and regional markets, Singapore stocks may slowly enter into a 'catch-up rally' in the days to come.

"The downside is cushioned by relatively cheap valuation and improved business environment."

All three Singapore banks finished higher.

DBS Group Holdings added 79 cents, or 3.39 per cent, to $24.13, while United Overseas Bank put on 36 cents, or 1.46 per cent, to $25.06, and OCBC Bank closed up 20 cents, or 1.75 per cent, to $11.65.

Telco StarHub added five cents, or 1.8 per cent, to $2.83 - right before the after-market announcement that chief executive and executive director Tan Tong Hai will be stepping down on May 1 next year.

Fellow telco Singtel closed up two cents, or 0.55 per cent, to $3.68. Earlier this week, it put a plum Hill Street property on the market with provisional permission to be redeveloped into a hotel project.

City Developments added 21 cents, or 1.77 per cent, to $12.11 as the developer pressed on with efforts to consolidate its stake in Millennium & Copthorne Hotels.

Commodity giant Olam, which this week posted a 17.5 per cent growth in net profit for the third quarter, put on four cents, or 1.86 per cent, to $2.19.

Wilmar International shrugged off a 5.7 per cent slide in third-quarter earnings and added one cent, or 0.32 per cent, to $3.16.

Meanwhile, Golden Agri-Resources finished up 0.5 cent, or 1.32 per cent, to 38.5 cents, after slipping earlier in the week as earnings plummeted on the back of foreign exchange losses.

But the news was not all rosy across the bourse.

Cruise operator Genting Hong Kong closed flat at 23.5 US cents. It had earlier announced that its Star NCLC unit will be selling five million shares in Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings for US$270.1 million (S$366 million).

Around the region, markets were more mixed.

Tokyo added 0.2 per cent, while the Hang Seng closed higher by 0.62 per cent.

But, bucking the trend, Chinese stocks continued their descent, with Shanghai down by 0.48 per cent and Shenzhen lower by 2.78 per cent, as traders fretted over the possibility of a regulatory crackdown.

The Seoul Kospi dipped by 0.03 per cent amid a domestic sell-off as the won strengthened against the greenback and cast a pall over exporters' prospects.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2017, with the headline 'Export rebound gives STI welcome lift'. Print Edition | Subscribe