Markets Insights

STI, big-cap stocks have buoyant Q1

The major listed firms here have grown throughout the first quarter, as the local bourse enjoyed one of the best showings in the region.

The total market capitalisation of Singapore-listed firms rose to $954.37 billion at end-March, up 2.6 per cent from February's $930.01 billion, and 8.5 per cent from $879.37 billion at end-December.

The growth has in fact been non-stop since October, a trend broadly in sync with the global "Trump rally" that pushed up stock markets worldwide.

Expectations of pro-business policies under United States President Donald Trump have fuelled exuberance on global stock markets.

And while that hype might have cooled off in recent weeks - evident in the 1.6 per cent drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average in the past month - the local market has stayed relatively buoyant.

Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index generated a dividend-inclusive return of around 11 per cent in the first quarter, double the average 5.1 per cent return of seven of Asia's biggest benchmarks, Singapore Exchange market strategist Geoff Howie said.

As of March 30, Japan's Nikkei had generated only 1.4 per cent of total return in the first quarter. Thailand's SET generated 3.8 per cent, Malaysia's KLCI 5.1 per cent and Hong Kong Hang Seng 6.8 per cent.

Remisiers have attributed the bullish performance here to the fact that Singapore stocks had been undervalued for a while.

Remisier Desmond Leong said: "The market momentum has been a bit of a surprise, but in a sense this is only a catch-up run compared with other markets."

Against this backdrop, most of the big-cap stocks have benefited, with eight of the 10 biggest stocks chalking up price gains in the January-March period.

Jardine Strategic Holdings was the top performer, up 26.5 per cent to US$42 at Friday's close. This pushed its market cap to $65.77 billion, the second-biggest stock here.

Jardine Matheson Holdings was at the third spot with a market cap of $64.12 billion, after its share price rose 16.3 per cent to US$64.25.

Prudential remained the biggest stock in Singapore with a market cap of $71 billion, despite a 3.9 per cent drop in price over the first quarter to US$19.95.

Singtel rose 7.4 per cent in the first quarter to $3.92, and its market cap was the fourth biggest at $63.97 billion. Its competitor StarHub had a market cap of $5.62 billion - 29th on the ranking - after a 2.5 per cent price gain to $2.88.

In the banking sector, DBS' share price put on 11.9 per cent in the first quarter to $19.40, OCBC rose 9 per cent to $9.72, and United Overseas Bank added 8.4 per cent to $22.11.

DBS was the fifth-biggest stock, with a market cap of $49.45 billion. OCBC was the sixth with $40.76 billion, and UOB was the seventh, with $36.41 billion.

Thai Beverage - the ninth- biggest stock with a market cap of $23.6 billion - saw its share price rising 10.6 per cent to 94 cents.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2017, with the headline 'STI, big-cap stocks have buoyant Q1'. Print Edition | Subscribe