Bulls And Bears

S'pore stocks inch up amid rocky trading

Uncertainty reigns in markets as US Fed is expected to raise interest rates tomorrow

Singapore shares eked out a marginal gain yesterday after a rocky session, when most minds were on the expected interest rate rise announcement in the United States.

The Straits Times Index closed up 3.04 points or 0.1 per cent at 2,955.23, snapping a three-day slide, but the session reflected an uncertain mood, with the benchmark hitting as low as 2,939 before firming up in the late afternoon.

Around 1.43 billion shares worth $1.04 billion were traded.

Elsewhere, Shanghai added 0.07 per cent, while Hong Kong gained 0.06 per cent following news that China's November industrial output grew 6.2 per cent year on year. Tokyo rose 0.5 per cent.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.2 per cent overnight but the S&P 500 eased 0.11 per cent ahead of the Fed's expected rate hike announcement tomorrow morning Singapore time.

Meanwhile, investors remained wary of oil prices. Brent crude futures had a slight wobble after Monday's surge but still stayed above US$55 a barrel.

Offshore and marine stocks were very active as a result. Ezra Holdings saw 158.6 million shares changing hands as it closed down 0.1 cent or 1.79 per cent at 5.5 cents. Ezion Holdings ended flat at 40.5 cents, with 42.6 million traded shares.

Keppel Corp was one of the 12 losers on the STI, down four cents or 0.64 per cent to $6.24. But it is still up 17.5 per cent over the past month.

Analysts are divided on what the Opec oil production cut may mean for offshore marine firms here.

Maybank Kim Eng's Mr Yeak Chee Keong was not optimistic, expecting Keppel's recent rally to be unsustainable. "We think that Keppel faces a higher risk of asset write-downs than Sembcorp Marine, given that it has provided only $230 million, versus our initial estimate of up to $1 billion... We believe additional provision could surface in its 2016 results," he said, giving Keppel a sell call and a 12-month target price of $4.57.

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding was the biggest blue-chip loser, down 1.5 cents or 1.72 per cent to 85.5 cents, while Thai Beverage pared one cent or 1.18 per cent to 84 cents.

Sats led the 14 STI gainers, closing up 12 cents or 2.53 per cent to $4.87. Genting Singapore rose two cents or 2.09 per cent to 97.5 cents after dropping for three days.

Outside the STI, some market watchers continued their search for value stocks, with DBS analyst Paul Yong eyeing growth companies such as Valuetronics Holdings and CNMC Goldmine Holdings.

CNMC Goldmine ended one cent or 2.44 per cent higher at 42 cents, while Valuetronics put on half a cent or 0.91 per cent to 55.5 cents.

In his monthly small- and mid-cap report released yesterday, he said: "Recently listed medical services group HC Surgical Specialists is poised to deliver both organic and inorganic growth." Its shares closed flat at 61.5 cents yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore stocks inch up amid rocky trading'. Print Edition | Subscribe