Mixed day for Asian markets, STI closes 10 points up

Singapore Exchange Centre at Shenton Way.
Singapore Exchange Centre at Shenton Way.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Asian markets went through another mixed day on Wednesday, with Singapore shares ending in the black but showing no sign of firm rebound.

Amid expectations that the local market will remain in a consolidation mode in the weeks to come, the oil price movement is proving a key signal for investor reactions, but market watchers don't see a lot to cheer for on this front.

A recovery in the crude oil future Brent to above US$38 per cent - on the back of Kuwait's assurance that an output freeze by major oil producers is still likely - helped push the benchmark Straits Times Index up 10.33 points or 0.37 per cent to 2,811.25.

Elsewhere, market performance was less even. While Hong Kong put on 0.15 per cent, Shanghai dropped 0.08 per cent and Tokyo shed 0.11 per cent. This followed the 0.75 per cent drop to Dow Jones Industrial Average overnight as investors unsure about earnings outlook took profit on the recent rally at Wall Street.

A similar uncertainty is also at play here, CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang said.

"The gain (on Wednesday) was likely just a technical rebound from Tuesday due to the surge in oil prices, but the prices - and the stock market - may retreat again after the weekly oil inventory report," she told The Straits Times, referring to the United States official oil inventory data to be released later Wednesday night. The stockpile level had been at record highs for seven straight weeks previously.

Against this backdrop, "The STI will continue its consolidation until at least the end of this month when the release of company results paints a clearer picture," Ms Yang cautioned.

Still, there was enough lift for 16 of the 30 STI constituents to end in the black. Among them, Keppel Corp put on 10 cents or 1.8 per cent to S$5.65 and Sembcorp Marine rose 2.5 cents or 1.62 per cent to S$1.565, benefitting from the better oil prices. Outside the STI, Ezra Holdings added 0.8 cents or 8.6 per cent to 10.1 cents.

whwong@sph.com.sg