Bulls And Bears

ST Index gains 0.7% amid positive news

Other key regional bourses also enjoy good run after Wall Street's record close

There was no other way for the stock market to go but up yesterday, given Wall Street's record close last Friday, a flourishing risk appetite among investors and rosy data signalling global economic resilience.

The key Straits Times Index (STI) rose 22.7 points or 0.7 per cent to 3,512.18, inching closer to 2015's high. It has climbed 3.2 per cent since the start of the year.

The United States released disappointing non-farm payrolls for December last Friday but that did not detract from the big picture of robust job market conditions.

While there are cautious voices, positive news is dominating.

"It is a struggle to find anything bad to say. That has to be good," said ING chief economist and Asia-Pacific research head Rob Carnell.

There is no threat from the US Federal Reserve - it is likely to more or less keep to the stated three hikes this year - while the European Central Bank's "casual saunter" towards a non-asset purchasing condition is well flagged and buoyant energy prices will support most of Asia.

But he warns: "With such a benign start to the year, something, somewhere will most likely go wrong... but in the meantime, we will enjoy the relative calm."

Other Asian markets also had a good run, with the Hang Seng in Hong Kong up 0.3 per cent, Shanghai Composite rising 0.5 per cent, South Korea's Kospi ahead by 0.6 per cent and a 0.8 per cent gain for the Malaysian KLCI.

The STI's close above 3,500, alongside sweet gains in other key regional bourses, has led analysts to suggest that the upward momentum could continue right into the fourth-quarter reporting season.

About 1.9 billion shares worth $944 million were done here, with 258 gainers trumping 161 losers.

Of the 30 STI stocks, 21 saw gains while four lost ground. Credit Suisse said it preferred banks, developers and stocks with potential earnings upgrades. "We expect cyclical stocks to lead the Singapore market in 2018, as exports and manufacturing momentum stay firm and underpin a potential GDP growth pace of around 3 per cent," it said in a report.

The banks led gains in the local bourse. DBS Group Holdings advanced 13 cents or 0.5 per cent to $26.45 while United Overseas Bank rose 34 cents or 1.3 per cent to $27.25. OCBC Bank finished up four cents or 0.3 per cent at $12.99.

CapitaLand gained seven cents or nearly 2 per cent to $3.72. RHB Research has revised earnings projections for the developer, given its recent divestments and acquisitions.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2018, with the headline 'ST Index gains 0.7% amid positive news'. Print Edition | Subscribe