Bulls And Bears

S'pore shares up in line with rest of Asia

Singtel, DBS and OCBC perform well; Noble, Genting S'pore among most actively traded

Local shares closed firmer yesterday in line with the rest of Asia, amid optimism that the European Central Bank will prolong its bond-buying programme.

The Straits Times Index was up 0.36 per cent, or 10.72 points to 2,959.84, buoyed in part by some key blue chips.

Singtel gained 1.1 per cent or four cents to $3.78, DBS Group jumped 16 cents or 0.9 per cent to $18.32 and OCBC edged up 0.3 per cent or three cents to $9.30.

DBS Group Research noted that "with rate hikes almost a certainty in the coming quarters, Singapore banks are almost surely to deliver higher net interest margins".

The broker upgraded OCBC to buy and UOB to hold.

Government aid for the energy sector in the form of new incremental loans has brought some relief to firms experiencing tight cash flow, and respite to banks' non performing loans, it noted.

"However, we remain watchful on spillover effects to the construction sector and loans to individuals in the near term, should the macro environment remain sluggish and unemployment levels become a concern."

The most actively traded stock yesterday was commodity giant Noble Group, which lost 0.2 cent to end at 16.4 cents on a volume of 128.7 million shares.

On Tuesday, it had said it was selling assets to raise some US$100 million (S$143 million) and strengthen its balance sheet.

Genting Singapore was among the most actively traded counters, jumping 4.6 per cent or 4.5 cents to $1.025 with 61 million shares traded, after Japan's Parliament edged closer to allowing casinos.

Nomura Research kept a neutral call on Genting, citing uncertainty over whether it will get a nod from Japan if it opens up to casinos. Genting wants ventures outside of Singapore as gaming revenue has stagnated.

Thai Beverage was another actively traded counter, gaining 1.8 per cent or 1.5 cents to 86 cents, with 25.5 million shares traded.

OCBC Investment Research maintained a buy call on the company, saying there may be some "near-term weakness" as advertising planned for the first quarter next year could be postponed after the Thai King's death.

"We still like the group's long-term growth story and diversification plans, which can potentially be accelerated by a corporate restructuring, slated to happen next year," OCBC said.

Other hotly traded counters included Spackman Entertainment, which jumped 11.7 per cent or 1.7 cents to 16.2 cents, with 108.4 million shares traded

Another was QT Vascular, down 6.9 per cent or 0.7 cent to 9.4 cents on trade of 44.1 million while Alliance Mineral Assets was up 8.7 per cent or 0.8 cent to 10 cents with 36.1 million shares changing hands.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore shares up in line with rest of Asia'. Print Edition | Subscribe