Bulls And Bears

Rally in Japan helps perk up Asian bourses

Shanghai, however, fails to follow script as traders take profit from previous day's rise

Asian stocks mostly clocked modest gains yesterday, tracking a rally in Japanese equities in the absence of other positive catalysts.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) was nearly flat, edging up just 5.41 points or 0.19 per cent to 2,814.65.

Tokyo rose 1.1 per cent as the yen retreated after a seven-day rally, which helped lift sentiment elsewhere in the region, though only to a limited extent.

Hong Kong inched up 0.3 per cent, Seoul added 0.6 per cent, and both Sydney and Jakarta advanced 0.9 per cent.

Shanghai lost 0.3 per cent, dragged down by property and technology shares as traders moved to lock in profits from the previous day's rally.

Analysts believe the yen will remain in focus, given the lingering concerns over Japan's economic fundamentals.

"Investors are frustrated about the lack of effective measures against the strong yen," Mr Hikaru Sato, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo, told Reuters. "Confidence in Japanese stocks has waned since the end of last year and it still hasn't recovered."

Wall Street put in a lacklustre showing on Monday, dipping by a marginal 0.1 per cent at the outset of the corporate earnings season - forecast as the worst since the financial crisis.

Among the 30 STI constituents, 10 stocks rose, with telco Singtel one of them, putting on three cents or 0.8 per cent to $3.69. Meanwhile, SIA Engineering gained four cents or 1.1 per cent to $3.62.

Agri-business giant Wilmar International rose two cents or 0.6 per cent to $3.41. An OCBC Investment Research report said that while it shares the management's optimism about the group's long-term prospects, the near-term valuations are "not as attractive".

It maintains a "hold" call on the stock, noting that the recent pullback in sugar prices could also spell some near-term earnings volatility.

Banks were a mixed bag: DBS Group Holdings edged up two cents or 0.1 per cent to $15.08 and United Overseas Bank put on 14 cents or 0.8 per cent to $18.70. OCBC Bank, however, slipped one cent or 0.1 per cent to $8.86.

Outside of the STI, lifestyle products group Osim International stayed in the limelight. It rose half a cent or 0.4 per cent to $1.395 after Credit Suisse - acting for Osim founder Ron Sim in his bid to take the company private - admitted on Monday that 17 million shares were purchased by mistake at a higher price than the original final offer.

The most actively traded counter was oil and gas exploration firm Interra Resources, which saw 84.5 million shares change hands. The stock surged 1.5 cents or 15.6 per cent to 11.1 cents.

Turnover across the bourse was thin at 978.7 million shares worth just $663.9 million.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2016, with the headline 'Rally in Japan helps perk up Asian bourses'. Print Edition | Subscribe