Bulls and bears

Market sizzles on hopes of Chinese stimulus

STI joins regional rally betting that China's lacklustre growth will spur govt to add fizz

Asian stock markets made a comeback yesterday, as the spotlight turned from tumbling oil prices back to China.

Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) was not left out of the party, rising 45.47 points or 1.75 per cent to 2,638.47, marking its biggest one-day gain since November.

The regional rally was led by Chinese shares, with Shanghai jumping 3.2 per cent, as traders raised their bets on stimulus measures after China released data that showed 6.9 per cent economic growth last year.

The annual figure, which reflects the nation's slowest pace of expansion in 25 years, confirmed fears that the world's second-largest economy is losing steam. But it also spurred speculation that the government will act, said analysts.

Investors need to ask "what is the next policy action in terms of stimulus from the Chinese", Mr Didier Duret, chief investment officer at ABN Amro Private Banking, told Bloomberg TV in Hong Kong.


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"It will probably come into infrastructure - railways, telecoms and air space infrastructure. That's the area that should benefit."

Elsewhere, Hong Kong rose 2.1 per cent, Tokyo inched up 0.6 per cent and Sydney gained 0.9 per cent. Wall Street was shut for a national holiday on Monday.

Most blue chips in Singapore put up a good showing, with the banks leading the upturn on the STI.

DBS Group rose 25 cents or 1.8 per cent to $14.48, OCBC Bank put on 14 cents or 1.8 per cent to $7.92, and UOB gained 42 cents or 2.5 per cent to $17.52.

Oil and gas-related plays gained a solid footing as well, as prices of benchmark Brent climbed back up to around US$29 a barrel after sliding below US$28 on Monday.

Sembcorp Marine surged 16.5 cents or 12.5 per cent to $1.48, and Keppel Corporation jumped 33 cents or 6.8 per cent to $5.18. Both counters have been hammered in the wake of weakening oil prices, now at 12-year lows.

Telcos, however, chalked up losses as competition in the industry continues to intensify. Singtel slid three cents or 0.9 per cent to $3.50, extending its decline for the third straight session, and StarHub dropped seven cents or 2 per cent to $3.41.

M1 took a big hit, ending 11 cents or 4.2 per cent down at $2.50, its lowest level in more than three years. It reported on Monday night a 2.1 per cent drop in fourth-quarter net profit to $43.6 million, amid slowing handset sales.

Offshore marine group Ezra Holdings was the day's most heavily traded, with 80.7 million shares changing hands. The counter added 0.6 cent or 9.4 per cent to seven cents.

Commodity trader Noble Group was also kept on an active run as 52.1 million shares were moved, with the stock rising 2.5 cents or 9.1 per cent to 30 cents.

The bourse recorded a turnover of 1.24 billion units worth $1.28 billion, one of the highest this year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2016, with the headline 'Market sizzles on hopes of Chinese stimulus'. Print Edition | Subscribe