Singapore shares start week on firmer footing

SINGAPORE - Singapore market closed marginally higher after a choppy trading day, ahead of a potentially volatile week.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) closed 2.85 points or 0.08 per cent up at 3,515.85, recovering from its 0.35 per cent drop last week.

Today's gain came as investors responded to the positive signals from the US last week, when Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 both closed at record highs, Phillip Futures investment analyst Howie Lee said.

But he advised caution ahead of policy events this week, including the April 29 meeting statement by Federal Reserve on whether interest rates will be hiked in June.

At home, DBS Group Holdings announced its first quarterly result today, and it impressed with record high income and profit. However, shares of DBS still closed 19 cents or 0.9 per cent lower at $20.89 after the briefing.

But Mr Lee is still positive on banking's outlook amid rising interbank-rates, expecting OCBC Bank and United Overseas Bank (UOB) to report record earnings on April 30.

UOB's shares shot up to a new full-year high, closing 35 cents or 1.42 per cent up at $25.05 after a month of steady gains. OCBC rose three cents or 0.28 per cent to $10.82.

Other strong performers on the STI included Singtel, which closed seven cents or 1.6 per cent up at $4.44, and Olam International, which closed three cents or 1.5 per cent up at $2.03.

On the other end of the ledger, Singapore Technologies Engineering closed 18 cents or 4.77 per cent down at $3.59, while Sembcorp Marine dropped nine cents or 2.9 per cent to $3.01.

In other regional markets, Shanghai surged 3.04 per cent to another fresh seven year high amid expectations of mergers among state owned enterprises, while Hong Kong also had a record close after a 1.33 per cent gain.

Tokyo however went down 0.18 per cent, joined by Kuala Lumpur with a 0.16 per cent drop.