Global rally after Fed chair Yellen testimony lifts Singapore shares

Janet Yellen, chair of the US Federal Reserve, speaks during a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, DC, US, on Wednesday, July 12, 2017.
Janet Yellen, chair of the US Federal Reserve, speaks during a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, DC, US, on Wednesday, July 12, 2017.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE - A global rally helped lift Singapore equities on Thursday (July 13), as traders were heartened by the dovish tone in US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen's testimony to the Congress.

Ms Yellen delivered an upbeat assessment of the United States economy on Wednesday night, while signalling that future rate hikes will be gradual - sending Wall Street 0.57 per cent higher overnight.

Sentiment here was buoyant too, as a result: the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) advanced 26.76 points, or 0.83 per cent, to 3,235.67, snapping a two-day losing streak.

But total turnover on the bourse amounted to just 1.44 billion shares worth S$883.1 million. Hong Kong led gains in the region with a 1.16 per cent jump. Shanghai added 0.64 per cent, Sydney rose 1.11 per cent, while Tokyo was flat as it edged up 0.01 per cent.

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"It mostly seems to be down to Yellen," Rabobank quantitative analyst Bas Van Geffen told Reuters. "The fact that it seems like the Fed is going to take it slowly is being seen as a good sign by the equity markets and by the currency markets."

The STI's rebound was thanks in part to the local lenders. DBS Group Holdings shot up 2.1 per cent or 43 cents to S$21.03, United Overseas Bank rose 1.5 per cent or 35 cents to S$23.60, and OCBC Bank climbed 0.7 per cent or eight cents to S$10.91.

Warehouse operator Global Logistic Properties (GLP) requested for a trading halt on its shares before markets opened, pending an announcement.

Meanwhile, uncertainties continued to feature prominently in the offshore and marine space. Falcon Energy, which said on Wednesday that it plans to ask bondholders of its S$50 million of notes due September to extend the maturity date by three years and waive all covenents, slumped 6.3 per cent or 0.3 cent to 4.5 cents.