Singapore shares lifted by commodity, Jardine stocks

SINGAPORE - Selected buying of big name commodity stocks and interest in the Jardine group of companies helped to lift the stock market on Tuesday.

The Straits Times Index (STI) rose 18.2 points or 0.5 per cent to 3,411.1.

The benchmark index opened higher and never looked back, gaining as much as 27 points to hit an intra-day high of 3,430.8.

Turnover reached $1.2 billion with 1.3 billion shares traded, in line with the volume seen in recent weeks.

The positive showing by blue chips did not spillover to the broader market, where losers outnumbered gainers by a count of 238 to 195.

CMC Markets analyst Nicholas Teo said the bulk of the buying was dominated by commodity plays like Noble, Golden Agri-Resources and Wilmar, as well as Jardine Matheson and Jardine Strategic.

"People are not buying the commodity complex because there is a fundamental shift in demand, it could be a case of traders taking short-term positions after their stock prices were hammered down recently."

Another trigger for the commodity stocks could be Australia's central bank keeping interest rates unchanged as opposed to expectations for a rate cut, added Mr Teo.

The move supported the commodity-linked Aussie dollar against the United States dollar.

Golden Agri was the top volume counter, up 1.5 cents to 41.5 cents with 129.1 million shares changing hands.

Battered stock Noble, which has been combating allegations of creative accounting, rose after three previous sessions of losses, up 6.5 cents to $1.01.

It was also the second most traded shares with close to 65 million shares changing hands.

Both firms also reported that key shareholders upped their stakes.

Wilmar gained five cents to $3.30.

Topping the gainers list was Jardine Matheson, which rose US$1.45 to US$65.99, followed by Jardine Strategic, which added 84 US cents to US$35.84.