BULLS AND BEARS

STI perks up despite gloomy US jobs data

Index supported largely by the three local banks; mixed results elsewhere in Asia

Singapore shares fended off the gloom surrounding the disappointing jobs data in the United States to make modest gains yesterday.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) climbed 22.05 points, or 0.78 per cent, to 2,831.28.

This was even as Wall Street lost 0.18 per cent last Friday, following a dismal employment report which showed only 38,000 jobs were added last month, the smallest monthly increase in more than five years.

The "shocking headline" sank the US dollar and snuffed out all expectations of a rate hike this month, noted IG market strategist Bernard Aw.

"The May non-farm payrolls will give Fed policymakers cause for pause, at least for June. If they are going to act, July will clearly be a better month to do so, or even September, depending on how the upcoming data pans out," he said.

Markets elsewhere in Asia were mixed. Tokyo dropped 0.37 per cent to a four-week low as the yen strengthened sharply against the US dollar, while Shanghai slipped 0.16 per cent, dragged down by financial and consumer shares. On the other hand, Hong Kong added 0.4 per cent, Sydney grew 0.78 per cent and Jakarta rose 0.87 per cent.

"I guess the consensus now... is that the Fed will not raise the interest rates," Eagle Securities analyst Joseph Roxas told Reuters. "So, let the good times roll."

At home, the STI was supported largely by the three local banks. United Overseas Bank (UOB) rose 37 cents, or 2 per cent, to $18.67; DBS Group Holdings put on 20 cents, or 1.3 per cent, to $15.70; and OCBC Bank advanced nine cents, or 1 per cent, to $8.76.

A DBS Vickers report said bank stocks such as OCBC and UOB will likely be "underpinned by higher US interest rate expectations as the year progresses that also imply an improving US economy".

Singtel also performed strongly, gaining five cents, or 1.3 per cent, to $3.95, while Ascendas Reit rose five cents, or 2.2 per cent, to $2.36.

Laggards included palm oil producer Golden Agri-Resources, which sank 1.5 cents, or 3.8 per cent, to 38.5 cents, and Thai Beverage, down one cent, or 1.1 per cent, to 91.5 cents.

Outside the blue chips, Best World International rose nine cents, or 7.4 per cent, to $1.305, "fuelled by talks it may soon announce it has got its direct selling licence in China", according to a NetAsia Research report.

It also noted that Sino Grandness Food Industry Group, a maker of canned fruit and vegetables, rose 2.5 cents, or 3.3 per cent, to 77.5 cents on speculation that the initial public offering of its Garden Fresh unit in Hong Kong will take place soon.

The day's most heavily traded counter was commodity trader Noble Group, which fell 2.5 cents, or 9.6 per cent, to 23.5 cents on a turnover of 153.3 million shares, extending losses from last week after it announced a one-for-one rights issue.

Some 859.5 million shares worth $808.9 million exchanged hands across the bourse.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2016, with the headline 'STI perks up despite gloomy US jobs data'. Print Edition | Subscribe