Singapore shares flat, penny stocks frenzy invites scrutiny

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) closed 2.07 points or 0.06 per cent down at 3,371.41 on Tuesday, July 21, 2015.
The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) closed 2.07 points or 0.06 per cent down at 3,371.41 on Tuesday, July 21, 2015.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The frenzy among the penny plays continued on Tuesday, prompting increased scrutiny from the Singapore Exchange.

But market watchers are excited over the run-up in these smaller stocks, hoping that it will entice more retail investors into an otherwise quiet local market.

More than a handful of penny stocks leapt to giddy heights on Tuesday, with sports shoe company Qingmei Group closing 2.6 cents or a whopping 325 per cent higher at three cents.

Luggage maker Dapai International surged 1.1 cent or 157.14 per cent higher to 1.8 cent, while software firm Edition gained one cent or 111.11 per cent to close at 1.9 cents.

Zhongxin Fruit, China Flexpack and Infinio also gained between 100 and 109 per cent.

CEFC International, which remisier Chung Chun He cited as the counter that triggered the latest bout of penny fever, jumped 11.5 cents or 63.9 per cent to 29.5 cents.

Mr Chung said: "There's really no fundamentals to the penny run right now, and we may be seeing a bit of a herd mentality at that market segment now.

"But that's not saying it's a bad news for the market. Already it's pushing the trading volume up, and I hope the penny run-up can sustain for a couple more weeks to draw in more retail investors. In any case, the current rally is not unreasonable after the previous beating on pennies."

Reflecting that sentiment, overall market volume was 3.19 billion shares, substantially higher than the one to two billion shares level that SGX normally sees.

Nonetheless, the bourse operator was wary, firing queries over abnormal price movements to Qingmei, Edition and CEFC International at least on Tuesday.

In response, CEFC said potential joint ventures that the petrochemical firm is considering may have sparked the red-hot trading, but the deal is still in preliminary discussions and investors should exercise caution when trading.

Away from the pennies, the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) closed 2.07 points or 0.06 per cent down at 3,371.41, cooling down after Monday's robust gain.

Noble Group was the top losing blue chip, paring 1.5 cent or 2.21 per cent to close at 66.5 cents after Iceberg Research surfaced with a fresh round of criticisms at the commodity giant.

Genting Singapore dropped two cents or 2.15 per cent to 91 cents, while Wilmar International closed four cents or 1.21 per cent down at S$3.27.

On the other end of the ledger, Global Logistic Properties was among the top gainers, up three cents or 1.18 per cent to close at S$2.58. Investors were looking at GLP favourably, after the company announced a US$7 billion fund to boost its logistic facilities in China.