Noble Group surges 14% to lead gains on Singapore benchmark

Noble climbed 14 per cent to 51.5 Singapore cents at the close, the biggest gain since Aug 4.
Noble climbed 14 per cent to 51.5 Singapore cents at the close, the biggest gain since Aug 4. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Noble Group Ltd., the commodities trader facing criticism of its accounting methods, jumped by the most in three weeks to lead gains on Singapore's benchmark equity measure.

Noble climbed 14 per cent to 51.5 Singapore cents at the close in the city-state, the biggest gain since Aug. 4 and the largest advance on the Straits Times Index, which rallied 2.5 per cent. The stock is still trading at less than half its price in mid-February, when Iceberg Research posted its first critical report of the company.

"There's no specific news to buy into Noble except traders could be bargain hunting given the significant decline in the shares this year," Bernard Aw, a strategist at IG Asia Pte Ltd., said by phone. "I'm still cautious on the stock given the weak demand for commodities."

Short interest as a percentage of Noble's outstanding shares climbed to a record 14.5 percent on Tuesday, according to Markit Group Ltd. data tracked by Bloomberg.

Noble held a five-hour investor meeting on Aug. 17 in Singapore and released a 135-page presentation about the company as part of efforts to restore investor confidence. The company also pledged to boost its annual operating income from its main assets to more than US$2 billion (S$2.80 billion) within five years, from US$1.49 billion in 2014.

The second-biggest gain on Singapore's equity measure Thursday was fellow commodity trader Olam International Ltd., which jumped by the most in six years before halting trade pending an announcement.

Olam didn't provide any more details and spokesman Chow Hung Hoeng couldn't immediately be reached for a comment.