Bulls And Bears

STI draws relief from US tariff exemption hopes

Good US job market data also helps lift local bourse, but Creative falls 16.5%

Local investors were in a buoyant mood yesterday, thanks to good job market data from the United States and renewed hopes that President Donald Trump's trade tariffs may exempt key allies.

The Straits Times Index (STI) finished the day up 29.75 points at 3,480.44, a rise of 0.86 per cent. Almost two billion shares worth $1.1 billion changed hands, with gainers outpacing losers by 279 to 138.

Creative Technology bucked the trend and took a heavy beating, losing $1.17, or 16.5 per cent, to $5.91, partly on news that co-founder Ng Kai Wa had offloaded some of his stock in open market sales.

Mr Ng sold 104,350 Creative shares at $939,150 on Monday and a further 95,650 shares at $868,799 on Tuesday. He now holds 3.055 per cent of Creative, down from 3.339 per cent. Broker Phillip Securities has also imposed trading restrictions on the stock.

But attention here was mostly on the US with investors struggling to get a read on Mr Trump, who shifted his tariff threats away from Europe to China.

In one tweet, he said China has been asked to cut its trade deficit with the US by US$1 billion (S$1.3 billion). This amused economists, who noted that US$1 billion represents just 0.27 per cent of the record US$375.2 billion goods trade surplus China had with the US last year.

Maybank analysts said sentiment remains defensive, given looming risks such as Mr Trump signing tariff orders, the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan meetings, and US payroll numbers.

Credit Suisse's local market report listed ST Engineering, ComfortDelGro, Singapore Exchange (SGX), Thai Beverage and SingPost as its preferred laggards.

"From a bottom-up perspective, our analysts believe these five stocks appear to have clear turnaround drivers and catalysts over the next 12 months," it noted.

"On a market-cap weighted basis, these stocks offer a dividend yield of 4 per cent, above MSCI Singapore's yield of 3.2 per cent," its local equity research team said. It also likes DBS Group and Keppel Corp.

After the market closed, SGX Regulation told commodities group Noble to appoint an independent financial adviser to provide an opinion on whether its planned restructuring is fair and reasonable, and not prejudicial to shareholder interest.

According to Bloomberg, experts have raised concerns over the language in Noble's debt restructuring plans that could absolve the firm, its advisers and representatives from claims or legal action related to its senior creditors' pre-existing debt securities.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2018, with the headline 'STI draws relief from US tariff exemption hopes'. Print Edition | Subscribe