Regional markets, local bourses move to positive territory, STI closes 5 points up

SINGAPORE - Local shares finally stopped its bleeding on Wednesday when most of the regional markets also gained, as sentiment looks to be on the mend following the recent selloff.

Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index rose a marginal 4.72 points or 0.18 per cent to 2,696.50, closing up only for the second time so far this year. The market was not overly excited but the volume was still visible, with some 1.09 billion shares worth S$998.8 million were transacted.

Most of the Asian markets were also up, with Tokyo putting on 2.88 per cent while Hong Kong added 1.13 per cent. Sydney gained 1.19 per cent and Kuala Lumpur ended 0.07 per cent higher.

Shanghai however shed 2.42 per cent, but the drop came after a bout of afternoon selloff wiped off the market's positive start.

China's policy makers have been trying to calm the market nerves with a firmer guidance rate for the Chinese yuan in recent days. The currency rose a minor 0.03 per cent to 6.5750 against the greenback.

But where the markets will go in the near term is still anyone's guess, Fidelity chief investment officer for equities Dominic Rossi cautioned.

"The next earnings cycle in the United States will come in about two weeks' time, and that'll be a big test for the global markets. But overall sentiment is certainly quite fragile. All it takes is another yuan rate reduction, and we'll be back in the slide," he told the Straits Times on Wednesday.

Singapore companies are also entering their results season, with construction firm Lian Beng Group yesterday reporting a 55.4 per cent increase in its revenue for the six months to Nov 30 due to higher contribution from residential property joint ventures. Its shares ended flat at 49.5 cents ahead of the announcement.

Back on the STI, 17 counters recorded gains. SingTel closed up five cents or 1.42 per cent to S$3.58, with 23.5 million shares changing hands. Thai Beverage was also up, rising one cent or 1.48 per cent to 68.5 cents.

Keppel Corp was also among the gainers, up four cents or 0.78 per cent to S$5.19. Sembcorp Marine was on the other end of STI, dropping four cents or 2.65 per cent to S$1.47, while Ezra Holdings outside the benchmark index pared 0.1 cents or 1.27 per cent to 7.8 cents.

whwong@sph.com.sg