Bulls And Bears

STI climbs 0.2% thanks to Wall Street gains

Surges in retail sales and oil prices also give traders more reasons for cheer

Traders evidently could not find one good reason to sell yesterday as they ended the second trading week of the new year on an upbeat note.

Indeed, there were plenty of reasons not to quit the show ahead of the release of some key United States data.

The key Straits Times Index (STI) snapped two straight days of losses to add 7.8 points or 0.2 per cent yesterday, closing at 3,520.56 and up 0.9 per cent for the week.

Elsewhere in the region, almost all key bourses rose except for Japan and Jakarta. Hong Kong's Hang Seng enjoyed a record rally for the 14th straight day, rising nearly 1 per cent, and China's Shanghai Composite added 0.1 per cent. Malaysia's KLCI and South Korea's Kospi gained 0.3 per cent.

Good news continued to trickle in, with data showing that retail sales here surged in November, reversing course from the October slump.

It helped a great deal, too, that all three key US stock indices advanced to record highs overnight on Thursday, led by a surge in energy stocks and ahead of the earnings season.

Oil prices rose above US$70 per barrel for the first time since 2014.

"The tide remains with the crude rally, finding prices surging to multi-year highs for Brent and WTI futures alike," said IG Markets analyst Jingyi Pan.

Turnover on the local bourse was 2.4 billion shares worth $1.2 billion. Gainers outpaced losers 285 to 176.

Two banking stocks led the gains, with OCBC Bank up nine cents or 0.7 per cent to $12.99 and UOB gaining 17 cents or 0.6 per cent to $27.87. DBS Bank fell 12 cents or 0.5 per cent to $26.34.

Singapore's better-than-expected economic recovery has led to sweet gains in property stocks and Reits.

Credit Suisse pointed out that the valuations of Reits are at their steepest in two years.

"With spot rents improving across almost all property segments, due to easing supply pressure and recovering demand, we see organic growth in DPU (distribution per unit) kicking in from the second half of 2018.

"The prospect of analysts' earnings upgrades could continue to support the sector, but the valuation is the least compelling over the past two years. Investors may want to wait for more attractive entry levels," said the report.

Suntec Reit rose three cents or 1.4 per cent to $2.25, while Ascendas Reit gained one cent or 0.4 per cent to $2.79. Singapore Press Holdings shed two cents or 0.8 per cent to $2.63, ahead of its first-quarter earnings report. Net profit rose 32 per cent to $60.4 million on the back of a 7 per cent decline in revenue to $259 million.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2018, with the headline 'STI climbs 0.2% thanks to Wall Street gains'. Print Edition | Subscribe