BULLS AND BEARS

Markets' surge continues on hopes of Greek deal

Heavily traded Noble is top gainer among S'pore blue chips

ASIAN markets had another strong run yesterday with expectations still high that the Greek debt crisis will be resolved soon as emergency talks continue.

All key regional markets closed higher, with Tokyo rising 0.28 per cent to hit another post-1996 high. Fresh signs of sustained economic recovery in Japan also bolstered shares there.

Chinese stocks rebounded for the second day as Shanghai jumped 2.48 per cent and Hong Kong gained 0.26 per cent. The mini-crash in China last week has weeded out leveraged speculation in the market to make room for healthier rises, Bocom International chief strategist Hong Hao told Reuters.

Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) was not left out of the party, closing 11.55 points or 0.35 per cent higher at 3,351.33. This was the fourth day of gain for the local market but CMC Markets analyst Nicholas Teo said it is too early to consider this a sustained rally.

He said: "I'm actually not too optimistic about the Greek debt - both sides seem to be only kicking the can down the road. But for now, markets are not discounting a positive outcome from the crisis. For STI, it's still recovering from the selldown in the past two weeks. I'd like to see it stay above the 3,350 level in a more convincing manner. Only then can we hope for it to punch through 3,400 next week."

Noble Group once again stood out in the local market, gaining the most among blue chips as it closed two cents or 2.88 per cent higher at 71.5 cents. It was among the most actively traded stocks yesterday, with 74.4 million shares changing hands.

This suggests yet another round of share buybacks by the company, Mr Teo said, which would be the seventh round this month following a buyback of 14 million shares on Tuesday.

Noble has been aggressively buying back its own shares to support its free-falling share price as it continues to combat critics and short-sellers.

But its management looks to be winning the support of institutional partners, including Chinese agricultural giant Cofco, whose president Yu Xubo was appointed a non-executive director on Noble's board yesterday. Mr Yu is a key figure in the Cofco-Noble joint venture Noble Agri.

Meanwhile, Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust was the top losing blue chip, falling four cents or 1.62 per cent to $2.43.

Telcos also struggled, with Singtel paring three cents or 0.7 per cent to close at $4.24, while StarHub ended two cents or 0.5 per cent lower at $4.02. Investors are still mulling over the market disruption that a potential fourth player could cause.

whwong@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2015, with the headline 'Markets' surge continues on hopes of Greek deal'. Print Edition | Subscribe