Singapore shares end higher on improved sentiments

SINGAPORE - The benchmark Straits Times Index closed 4.16 points or 0.12 per cent higher at 3,454.26.

Investors were relieved to hear that, while the US Fed still looks set to raise interest rate this year, the move will not be rushed.

Good news also came from China, where central bank chief Zhou Xiaochuan noted on March 29 that the economy had slowed "a little too quick" - a message interpreted as the government's willingness for further easing and stimulus measures.

But market performance this week is far from certain, with all eyes on data to be released by key economies in the days ahead, including the US non-farm payrolls figure for March on Good Friday and China's purchasing managers' index on April 1, CMC Markets analyst Nicholas Teo said.

Against this backdrop, Thai Beverage was the top gainer today, closing 2.5 cents or 3.36 per cent higher at 77 cents - a new 52-week high. This came as the counter rose 7.69 in the month to date on the back of high investor interest in recent times after the group reported 13.4 per cent growth in last year's net profit.

Outside the STI, developers Wing Tai and Ho Bee each gained 5 per cent to $1.935 and $2.15, respectively. The property sector is the current hot theme, analysts added, in the light of rising expectations that listed developers may privatise this year and lend support to stock value.

"Some developers with unsold units may opt to privatise to avoid the hefty penalties incurred by the Qualifying Certificate (QC) rules. Wing Tai and Ho Bee are among the likeliest to do so," remisier Alvin Yong said.

Under the QC rules, developers must pay an extension charge for its unsold units after two years of their completion.

Meanwhile, ComfortDelGro lost the most among the blue chips, closing five cents or 1.7 per cent down as the sell-down continues after the shares hit a 52-week high of $3.14 on Feb 11, Mr Yong added.