BULLS AND BEARS

STI inches up amid mixed regional trading

Session saw very light trading, with only $640.2m worth of shares changing hands

Singapore shares managed a marginal gain yesterday amid a mixed performance across the region.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) had a slow start and slipped to as low as 2,740 in early trading before a recovery that let it close at 2,766.93, up just 3.11 points, or 0.11 per cent.

The session saw very light trading, with only $640.2 million worth of shares changing hands across the whole market.

Tokyo dropped 0.49 per cent following news that Japan's exports last month plunged 10.1 per cent year on year. Shanghai put on 0.64 per cent but Hong Kong pared 0.22 per cent.

On the STI, 12 of the 30 constituent stocks were up. Among the top gainers, Golden Agri-Resources put on 1.5 cents, or 4.17 per cent, to 37.5 cents, while Wilmar International rose five cents, or 1.53 per cent, to $3.31.

The blue-chip real estate investment trusts (Reits) were also up. CapitaLand Mall Trust (CMT) rose two cents, or 0.98 per cent, to $2.07.

Investors will find retail Reits, such as CMT or Frasers Centrepoint Trust (FCT) outside the STI, among the more resilient segments, said Ms Kum Soek Ching, head of South-east Asia research at Credit Suisse Private Banking Asia Pacific.

"We expect retail Reits, especially those with exposure to the more defensive suburban retail malls, to enjoy resilient rental streams through the economic slowdown," she noted yesterday.

FCT closed up one cent, or 0.51 per cent, at $1.99. Ascendas Reit, an STI counter with a portfolio of industrial and science park properties, went up two cents, or 0.87 per cent, to $2.33.

All three banking stocks rose. United Overseas Bank gained 10 cents, or 0.56 per cent, to $18.04; OCBC Bank added three cents, or 0.36 per cent, to $8.48; and DBS closed up eight cents, or 0.53 per cent, at $15.21.

The trio's first-quarter results offered some assurance, Ms Kum said. "With strong balance sheets and receding asset quality risk, the sector does not face a capital issue but rather an earnings dry season."

The STI counters have completed their results reporting for the quarter to March 31, with the earnings as a whole at 2 per cent above Bloomberg estimates, the Singapore Exchange said yesterday, adding that the local market has, in fact, been a standout in the region.

"The 12-month trailing earnings per share for the STI is currently higher than it stood at the end of 2015 and 2014. However, the 12-month trailing earnings per share for the MSCI AC Asia Pacific Index is currently below its levels for 2015 and 2014," it said in a report.

Still, there was no shortage of losers from day to day. Fifteen STI counters dropped yesterday, with Sats paring 20 cents, or 4.49 per cent, to $4.25 while Global Logistic Properties shed three cents, or 1.64 per cent, to $1.795.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2016, with the headline 'STI inches up amid mixed regional trading'. Print Edition | Subscribe