Bulls And Bears

Markets surge on hopes for Japan stimulus

Wall Street's 13-month high following strong US jobs data also boosts stocks across Asia

Asian stocks powered into the new week yesterday, boosted by hopes for more stimulus in Japan and strong US jobs data.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) was not left out of the party, adding 29.1 points, or 1.02 per cent, to close at 2,876.14.

Tokyo led the region-wide rally, surging 3.98 per cent on a weaker yen after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition won Upper House elections on Sunday, paving the way for possible fresh stimulus.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong added 1.54 per cent and Shanghai inched up 0.23 per cent. Sydney jumped 2.04 per cent, Seoul put on 1.3 per cent and Jakarta rose 1.96 per cent.

The strong showing in the region was helped by Wall Street, which rose 1.4 per cent last Friday to reach a 13-month high following a report that showed June payrolls in the US expanded the most since October.

"The US economy is fine but the outlook for the rest of the world is holding them back from raising rates," Mr Mark Matthews, head of Asia research at Bank of Julius Baer, told Bloomberg. "Abe can do much meaningful fiscal stimulus. The next step is to step up fiscal stimulus in Japan, which could be as simple as writing a cheque to every household."

The STI's solid performance was led by telco Singtel, which rose nine cents or 2.2 per cent to $4.23, and warehouse provider Global Logistic Properties, up four cents or 2.2 per cent to $1.87.

OCBC Investment Research analyst Eli Lee noted in a report that Global Logistic Properties' share buyback efforts since May 19 have "continued unabated".

"Given the group's strong balance sheet... there is significant capital to deploy and we believe that these share buybacks are accretive to shareholders at currently undervalued share prices," he said, maintaining a "buy" call on the stock.

Sembcorp Industries, which announced agreements with Mitsubishi Electric and Scinor (Asia) to test-bed new technologies for water, climbed three cents or 1.1 per cent to $2.85.

Outside of the blue chips, workforce solutions and services provider Advancer Global debuted on the Catalist board to finish at 39 cents - 77.3 per cent higher than its offering price of 22 cents - on a sizeable volume of 41.1 million units.

The rights shares of commodity trader Noble Group, which sank 0.6 cent or 10.9 per cent to 4.9 cents, were the day's most heavily traded, with 240.2 million units done.

Still, Mr Nirgunan Tiruchelvam, director of research at Religare Capital Markets, said in a note that the "favourable" response to Noble's US$522 million rights issue should help cut the group's net gearing and debt levels. "We raise our target price for Noble Group to 59 cents (from 56 cents) due to a clear improvement in the quality of its balance sheet, the group's return to an asset-light model and a decisive shift in commodity sentiment."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2016, with the headline 'Markets surge on hopes for Japan stimulus'. Print Edition | Subscribe