Bulls And Bears

STI ticks upwards but may lack momentum

Uncertainties over Brexit vote on June 23 likely to cause turbulence in regional markets

The region's risk appetite recovered somewhat yesterday but market watchers expect it will only be a blip amid a volatile week ahead.

Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) closed up 5.92 points or 0.21 per cent to 2,774.25, helped by a late rally that pushed the index up from 2,761.

Elsewhere, Shanghai added 1.58 per cent, Hong Kong rose 0.39 per cent, Tokyo closed up 0.38 per cent and Kuala Lumpur gained 0.11 per cent. But remisier Desmond Leong was cautious, expecting more volatility ahead of the Brexit referendum on June 23.

"Investors may be betting on a dovish statement by the Federal Reserve at the end of its current meeting," he told The Straits Times.

"But aside from that last-hour push, the (Singapore) market was lethargic through the day. I expect that to be case over the next few days, as the Brexit outcome seems increasingly hard to call."

The potentially short-lived momentum still lifted 15 of the 30 STI constituents, with Jardine Cycle & Carriage up the most, adding 47 cents or 1.43 per cent at $33.31.

Blue chip developers got a boost, after May's private home sales rose 64.2 per cent year on year.

City Developments rose 12 cents or 1.39 per cent to $8.77 and CapitaLand put on three cents or 1.01 per cent to $2.99 following its announcement of a venture fund to invest up to $100 million in tech start-ups globally.

Genting Singapore added half a cent or 0.69 per cent to 73 cents. The gaming operator has been under scrutiny lately amid news of job cuts and tumbling earnings, but CIMB still gave it a buy call and a target price of 89 cents in a note this week.

"Resorts World Jeju, set to open progressively in 2017 to 2019, could contribute $145 million recurring net profit per annum to Genting Singapore, by our estimate," it said, adding that the concerns around the firm's bad debt charges may create buying opportunities ahead of the potential earnings boost by the upcoming Korean venture.

Hutchison Port Holdings Trust led the 11 laggards on the STI, closing down half a US cent or 1.1 per cent at 45 US cents. SIA Engineering dropped four cents or 1.05 per cent to $3.77.

Singapore Airlines lost three cents or 0.28 per cent to $10.52. It is planning to up its stake in Virgin Australia's A$852 million equity raising announced yesterday.

Outside the STI, retailer stocks had a mixed day. Sheng Siong Group closed down 1.5 cents or 1.69 per cent at 87.5 cents while Metro Holdings was flat at $1.035.

Retail sales in Singapore improved 3.8 per cent year on year in April, the Department of Statistics said yesterday, but still fell 3 per cent, excluding motor vehicles.

Retail sales excluding motor vehicles may see some pickup in the next couple of months due to the Great Singapore Sales, OCBC economist Barnabas Gan said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2016, with the headline 'STI ticks upwards but may lack momentum'. Print Edition | Subscribe