Bulls And Bears

Singapore shares edge up slightly

Slight rebound but investors still cautious due to political uncertainty in US

Singapore stocks recovered somewhat yesterday, although investors remained cautious over political uncertainty in the United States.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) inched up 4.08 points, or 0.13 per cent, to 3,175.44 - up 35.61 points, or 1.13 per cent, for the week.

Most markets in the region pulled back, with Hong Kong easing 0.34 per cent and Tokyo down 0.29 per cent. Shanghai climbed 0.08 per cent, but posted its worst month of the year amid fears that regulators will step up a crackdown on riskier types of financing and speculation.

"It's a busy end to the week with a lot of data out of both Europe and the US," said Deutsche Bank's London strategist Jim Reid in a Bloomberg report. "Ahead of the first 100 days of (US President Donald) Trump... we'll see if a shutdown can be avoided."

Mr Trump's one-page tax reform plan has failed to excite markets, given the lack of details, while Congress has struggled to meet a midnight deadline yesterday to strike a final deal on funding to Sept 30, the end of the fiscal year, which could lead to a government shutdown. Wall Street edged up 0.03 per cent overnight.

At home, most of the gains on the STI were led by the local lenders.

United Overseas Bank rose 1.5 per cent, or 33 cents, to $21.80 - after posting a 5.4 per cent growth in first-quarter earnings to $807 million. A DBS Equity Research report put out a "buy" call on the stock with a target price of $22.70, noting that the bank's asset quality improvements and the management's positive stance - it had said the worst of non-performing loan issues should be over - should be catalysts.

DBS Group Holdings gained 0.7 per cent, or 14 cents, to $19.35, while OCBC Bank put on 0.6 per cent, or six cents, to $9.80. DBS will release first-quarter results next Tuesday, followed by OCBC on May 9.

Commodity plays also fared well, with Wilmar International adding 0.6 per cent, or two cents, to $3.55, and Golden Agri-Resources up 1.4 per cent, or half a cent, to 36 cents.

Rigbuilder Sembcorp Marine slumped 5.8 per cent, or 10 cents, to $1.63 - after posting a 28.8 per cent drop in first-quarter net profit to $39.6 million, it said on Thursday.

An RHB report maintained a "neutral" rating on the stock. It expects the core loss this quarter to be reversed in the coming quarters as a floater issue is rectified, and with progress for projects in hand.

Meanwhile, shares of Global Premium Hotels were suspended from trading after its public float fell below 10 per cent ahead of its delisting. The firm is being taken private by JK Global Capital, owned by chairman Koh Wee Meng. The stock last traded at 36.5 cents on Thursday.

Noble Group was the day's most heavily traded, sliding 2.1 per cent, or 0.3 cent, to 14.3 cents on 68.7 million shares done.

Turnover across the bourse reached 1.25 billion shares worth $1.52 billion.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2017, with the headline 'Singapore shares edge up slightly '. Print Edition | Subscribe