Bulls And Bears

Year-end boost for STI from three banks

Index up 18% from last year-end, but it's not much when compared with others in region

Share investors here and around the world will be sorry to see 2017 go after the heady - in some cases, spectacular - gains racked up.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) here ended the year at 3,402.92 points, up 18 per cent from the 2,880.76-point close at the end of last year.

Yet that looks small beer compared with others in the region.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng shot up 36 per cent, thanks to index heavyweights Tencent and Ping An Insurance more than doubling in value.

India's stock markets are up nearly 30 per cent, while Vietnam is ahead almost 50 per cent.

Even the US markets, which many said were looking a bit overvalued, had a banner year. Indexes there are up anywhere from 20 to 30 per cent. With the greenback weakening against many other currencies, US dollar-based investors did well wherever they kept their assets.

Singtel lost three cents to $3.57 yesterday - an insipid finish relative to its STI counterparts.

The three banks - DBS Bank, United Overseas Bank and OCBC Bank - drove much of the STI's performance for the year and are up around 30 to 40 per cent each.

DBS, which traded at a discount to its rivals due to worries over its sizeable oil and gas exposure, recovered the most.

The top index performer for the year was Yangzijiang Shipbuilding, up more than 80 per cent.

A new stock made its appearance on the Catalist board yesterday: Olive Tree Estates, formerly Chang-jiang Fertilizer Holdings and now involved in industrial property.

Developer CWG International closed at 19.3 cents, up 26 per cent, after a takeover offer at 19.5 cents was made. The top market performers for the year included United Food Holdings, Delong Holdings, HL Global Enterprises, AEM Holdings and Jiutian Chemical Group. These stocks were up around six times or more.

But before the champagne is popped, observe a minute's silence for the worst performers. Counters such as ISR Capital, Noble Group, QT Vascular, China Medical International and Abterra were down close to 80 per cent or more. Other stock price collapses were in YuuZoo Corp, Dukang Distillers, Informatics Education and Secura Group.

Secura, which listed on the Catalist board last year at 25 cents a share, has never really recovered to its initial public offering price. The firm prints cheque books and provides security guard services. It last traded at 8.5 cents, down 59 per cent from 20.5 cents as at the end of last year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 30, 2017, with the headline 'Year-end boost for STI from three banks'. Print Edition | Subscribe