Bulls And Bears

STI inches up as investor sentiment lifts

Among gainers are Yangzijiang, Sembcorp Industries, Nam Cheong, Genting Singapore

Singapore shares finished slightly higher with investors looking ahead to the release of United States Federal Reserve minutes that may shed light on rate hikes, and an upcoming Opec meeting.

The Straits Times Index closed 0.27 per cent or 8.55 points higher at 3,231.24. Turnover, which had topped two billion shares some days this week, was 1.96 billion shares, worth $994.2 million yesterday.

Investors are awaiting details on the probability of a rate hike next month in Fed minutes due out early today Singapore time, and watching to see whether crude oil output cuts led by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will be extended.

Higher oil prices helped lift counters including Yangzijiang Shipbuilding, which gained 2 per cent or 2.5 cents to $1.26, while Nam Cheong surged 17.4 per cent or 0.4 cent to 2.7 cents, on trade of 46 million shares.

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Sembcorp Industries rose 0.9 per cent or three cents to $3.22, while SembMarine edged up 0.3 per cent or 0.5 cent to $1.72.

The index also got a lift from Genting Singapore, which gained 1.3 per cent or 1.5 cents to $1.16 on positive sentiment over better than expected first quarter results.

UOB KayHian, which maintained a hold call on the casino operator, cited "lower impairment on receivables and surprisingly further operating cost savings". It added: "VIP gaming volume remained sluggish in the first quarter, but mass market gaming revenue managed a pleasant sequential uptick."

Noble Group was the most actively traded counter after it resumed trading yesterday. It finished 8.3 per cent or 3.5 cents lower to 38.5 cents, with 107.9 million shares traded. Investors weighed concerns about the commodity trader's ability to meet debt obligations and comments from the company that it remains in talks with several potential strategic partners.

A dealer said, referring to the US energy company hit by a massive accounting scandal in 2001: "It doesn't help when the street is filled with bearish chatter on the stock, with Iceberg Research calling Noble 'Enron 2.0'."

Hotly-traded pennies included interior designer and furniture maker Serrano, which fell 9.7 per cent or 0.3 cent to 2.8 cents, on trade of 65.2 million shares. Magnus Energy was flat at 0.1 cent with 60.9 million shares traded, while YuuZoo gained 5.1 per cent or 0.4 cent to 8.3 cents, with 38.8 million shares traded.

Wing Tai Holdings jumped 4.1 per cent or 7.5 cents to $1.92 on news that it was launching a 290.7 million ringgit (S$94 million) takeover offer for its Malaysian-listed unit Wing Tai Malaysia at 1.80 ringgit per share. OCBC Investment Research, which maintained a buy call on the developer, said the offer will allow it to further "integrate their financial and operational resources, which could result in cost savings and improved operational efficiencies".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2017, with the headline 'STI inches up as investor sentiment lifts'. Print Edition | Subscribe