Bulls And Bears

STI hits highest level since last November

Energy-related counters rise as oil prices rebound despite failure of Doha talks

A rebound in oil prices sent Singapore shares higher, with the market index touching highs not seen since November last year.

The Straits Times Index rose 10.83 points or 0.37 per cent to close at 2,960.78. It was up as much as 0.5 per cent at 2,963.86 at one point.

Buoying the market were OCBC, which gained 0.6 per cent or six cents to $9.45; Singtel, which rose 0.5 per cent or two cents to $3.97; and Genting Singapore, which added 2.3 per cent or two cents to 89 cents.

Despite the failed Doha talks on an output freeze, oil prices firmed on data from the US Energy Information Administration showing a smaller-than-expected inventory build-up, and speculation that another meeting has been set for May.

"Commodity prices rallied across the board and kept sentiment towards risk assets supported," Citi Research said.

Energy-related counters got a boost, with Ezra Holdings gaining 1.98 per cent or 0.2 cent to 10.3 cents. Rex International rose 1.9 per cent or 0.2 cent to 11 cents; Vard gained 2.2 per cent or 0.4 cent to 18.8 cents; and Ezion climbed 3.7 per cent or two cents to 56 cents.

News of the bankruptcy filing of oil rig supplier Sete Brasil, which accounts for nearly half of Keppel Corp's and Sembcorp Marine's orders, did not dent buying interest.

Keppel rose 0.2 per cent or one cent to $6, and SembMarine gained 1.1 per cent or two cents to $1.87.

UOB KayHian, which downgraded its call on Keppel to hold, said the group's first-quarter net profit of $210 million came in below expectations due to lower-than-expected offshore and marine revenue.

Other hotly traded counters included Magnus Energy, which sank 25 per cent or 0.1 cent to 0.3 cent, with 228.8 million shares traded. Noble Group rose 3.4 per cent or 1.5 cents to 46 cents, with 57 million shares traded, while Spackman Group Entertainment dropped 2.1 per cent or 0.3 cent to 14.2 cents, with 55.6 million shares traded.

China Star Food Group, which debuted on Wednesday on Catalist, continued to do well, rising 34.5 per cent or 10 cents to 39 cents. "The stock was available only by way of private placement, which means if the public wants to get it, they will have to buy it from the market," remisier Alvin Yong said.

Weighing down the index was the Singapore Exchange, which fell 3.1 per cent or 25 cents to $7.80 even after it reported on Wednesday third-quarter earnings that beat consensus expectations slightly.

DBS Group Research, which downgraded its call to hold, said boosting liquidity in the securities market remains a major focus for the exchange operator.

It said: "Derivatives will continue to be the main growth driver until SGX is able to monetise initiatives put forth to improve the securities market."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2016, with the headline 'STI hits highest level since last November'. Print Edition | Subscribe