Bulls And Bears

Singapore shares flat ahead of ECB meeting

Strong buying interest in UOB, Singtel lifts market but profit-taking takes its toll overall

Investors kept to the sidelines yesterday, ahead of a European Central Bank meeting on whether it will prolong its quantitative easing programme by six months.

The lack of buying interest left the Straits Times Index in the doldrums, closing at 2,958.86, down 0.03 per cent or 0.98 point.

Profit-taking on DBS Group, Genting Singapore, Wilmar International and Global Logistic Properties, all of which have had a nice run-up in recent weeks, weighed on the bourse. DBS lost nearly 1 per cent or 18 cents to $18.14, with 13.2 million shares traded, while Genting Singapore fell 2.9 per cent or three cents to 99.5 cents, with 45.7 million shares traded. Wilmar dipped 0.8 per cent or three cents to $3.66 and Global Logistic shed 0.4 per cent or one cent to $2.24.

Investors are also eyeing the United States next week, with a December rate hike looking increasingly likely as the economy continues to gain traction. Bank stocks have run up in anticipation of financial deregulation in the US and higher net interest margins.

Strong buying interest in UOB Group and Singtel helped bolster the market. UOB rose 0.9 per cent or 18 cents to $21.01, while the telco climbed 0.3 per cent or one cent to $3.79. Jardine Cycle & Carriage gained 1.6 per cent or 67 cents to $41.87.

Firmer oil prices helped buoy local energy plays, with Keppel Corp adding 0.7 per cent or four cents to $5.92. Ezion Holdings jumped 2.7 per cent or one cent to 37.5 cents while KrisEnergy gained 5.4 per cent or one cent to 19.4 cents.

UOB KayHian upgraded its call on the oil and gas sector to market weight, given "rising positive sentiment over share prices". It said: "We expect the sector to remain a trading play, as we expect continued oil price volatility from factors that may cap or break current price levels. Bankruptcy and contagion risks still remain, but the candidates have mostly been identified and any fallout should be contained."

The most actively traded penny counters included Nico Steel Holdings and Parkson Retail Asia, which were queried over unusual volume movement in their shares. Nico soared 31.3 per cent or 0.5 cent to 2.1 cents with 76.3 million shares traded while Parkson was flat at 13 cents, with 32.8 million shares traded.

Noble Group climbed 0.6 per cent or 0.1 cent to 16.5 cents with 123.6 million shares traded, Spackman Entertainment fell 2.5 per cent or 0.4 cent to 15.8 cents on trade of 62.5 million and Alliance Mineral lost 1 per cent or 0.1 cent to 9.9 cents with 46 million shares traded.

Meanwhile, Banyan Tree Holdings jumped 10.1 per cent or four cents to 43.5 cents after unveiling a $24 million plan to tie up with hospitality giant AccorHotels to develop and manage Banyan Tree-branded hotels. Banyan Tree will have access to AccorHotels' global reservations and sales network and its loyalty programme Le Club AccorHotels.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 09, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore shares flat ahead of ECB meeting '. Print Edition | Subscribe