Bulls And Bears

STI moves higher on region-wide rally

Higher oil prices help lift index but analysts say jitters over Thursday's Brexit vote remain

Singapore equities kicked off the week on a positive note yesterday, in line with a broader rally across the region.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) rose 37.45 points or 1.36 per cent to 2,800.87.

Analysts attributed the buoyant sentiment to waning fears over Brexit, following a poll that showed British voters were more in favour of staying in the European Union, ahead of Thursday's referendum.

"We are seeing a risk-on move after the latest Brexit poll," Mr Niv Dagan, executive director at Peak Asset Management in Melbourne, told Bloomberg.

"It may be short-lived and volatility is likely to remain high until Thursday's vote. This really could still go either way."

Elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo jumped 2.34 per cent, Hong Kong advanced 1.69 per cent and Sydney rose 1.82 per cent.

Shanghai was nearly flat, inching up just 0.13 per cent, weighed down by fears of a yuan depreciation and tighter regulatory rules over speculative trading.

The STI's rise was helped in part by oil and gas-related plays responding to higher oil prices.

Sembcorp Marine jumped five cents or 3.2 per cent to $1.60 and its parent company Sembcorp Industries gained nine cents or 3.2 per cent to $2.86. Keppel Corp rose 12 cents or 2.2 per cent to $5.48.

Palm oil giant Golden-Agri Resources was a big winner, surging two cents or 5.8 per cent to 36.5 cents. Local banks also fared well, with DBS Group Holdings up 35 cents or 2.2 per cent to $15.95.

The day's handful of laggards included real estate developer City Developments, which fell 14 cents or 1.6 per cent to $8.71, and Yangzijiang Shipbuilding (Holdings), down half a cent or 0.6 per cent to 88.5 cents.

Outside of the blue chips, Frasers Logistics and Industrial Trust, which was slated to start trading at 4.30pm yesterday, was put on a halt as its manager said the short trading period may "give rise to a disorderly trading market in the units". It commences trading at 9am today.

Offshore contractor Ezra Holdings was the most heavily traded, rising 0.2 cent or 2.6 per cent to 7.8 cents on volume of 45.6 million units.

Turnover across the bourse was thin, with just 673.9 million shares worth $798.1 million changing hands. "Short covering is the main reason for today's climb on low volumes, so I don't think there is much upside here," said a trader in a NetAsia Research report.

A DBS Group Research note said sentiment in Singapore is likely to remain jittery ahead of the Brexit referendum, although continued selling "should be limited as investors hold their breath and await the outcome".

"Until the verdict is out, the next few days spell uncertainty regardless of which side you take."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2016, with the headline 'STI moves higher on region-wide rally'. Print Edition | Subscribe