Bulls And Bears

STI gains as investors bet on banks

FOMC comments, blue chips' results today and tomorrow will be key drivers for market

Local shares closed higher yesterday as investors continued to place bets with bank stocks ahead of the release of OCBC's second-quarter earnings today.

Results from other blue chip firms, including Singapore Airlines and Singapore Exchange today, as well as UOB Group tomorrow, will be key drivers for the market.

The more optimistic sentiment sent the Straits Times Index up 0.27 per cent or 8.89 points to 3,336.72 yesterday. DBS Group led the way, jumping 1.3 per cent or 29 cents to $21.89. OCBC Bank gained 0.6 per cent or seven cents to $11.25 while UOB climbed 0.3 per cent or eight cents to $24.28.

Singtel joined the party as well, rising 0.8 per cent or three cents to $3.96.

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DBS Group Research said investors will be keeping "a close watch on (the banks') net interest margins, loans growth and non-performing loan numbers to ascertain their next move".

Investors were also eyeing the United States Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC)'s comments, due to be released at 2am Singapore time today, for clues on its policy outlook.

Local oil and gas counters were mostly lower despite Brent crude regaining US$50 a barrel levels after Saudi Arabia committed to cutting production by one million barrels a day from next month in a bid to ease glut concerns amid rising output in North America.

Keppel Corp lost 1.2 per cent or eight cents to $6.52 and Sembcorp Marine shed nearly 2 per cent or 3.5 cents to $1.76 ahead of the release of its earnings today.

Tech stocks extended gains after electronics, particularly semiconductor demand, lifted Singapore's manufacturing output in June.

Venture Corp jumped 1.5 per cent or 19 cents to $13.29, while AEM Holdings rose 0.4 per cent or one cent to $2.52. Meanwhile, SIA Engineering slipped 4.1 per cent or 16 cents to $3.71 after its first-quarter 2018 earnings disappointed.

Vard Holdings sank 2 per cent or 0.5 cent to 24 cents after it posted a bigger second-quarter net loss than a year ago. The shipbuilder cited restructuring costs due to termination benefits and statutory payments for temporary redundancies, mainly in Europe and Brazil.

Pennies actively traded yesterday included Rowsley, which fell 11.9 per cent or 1.8 cents to 13.3 cents on trade of 413.8 million shares.

Sincap Holdings lost 12.9 per cent or 0.4 cent to 2.7 cents, with 244.4 million shares traded. Swee Hong dropped 9.5 per cent or 0.2 cent to 1.9 cents, on turnover of 67.7 million shares.

KrisEnergy gained 4.1 per cent or 0.6 cent to 15.2 cents, on trade of 41.5 million shares.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2017, with the headline 'STI gains as investors bet on banks'. Print Edition | Subscribe