Shares rebound as China markets recover, STI closes 21 points up

SINGAPORE - Singapore shares rebounded in line with a recovery in regional equities after Chinese authorities removed a mechanism blamed for triggering volatility in Chinese stocks.

The Straits Times Index closed up 21.32 points at 2,751.23 but down 4.56 per cent for the week.

The recovery was led by Singtel, which jumped 2.6 per cent or nine cents to $3.55, with 34.6 million shares traded. A rebound in oil also boosted commodities plays Wilmar International, up nearly 4 per cent or 11 cents to $2.87, and Golden Agri-Resources, which rose 6.1 per cent or two cents to 35 cents.

Other gainers included SGX, 2.1 per cent or 15 cents ahead at $7.41.

Among the banks, OCBC Bank rose 0.4 per cent or three cents to $8.40 while UOB also gained. It rose three cents to end at $18.41.

DBS Group Holdings also added two cents to close at $15.72.

Both UOB and OCBC announced memorandum of understanding to promote investments and trade in China's Chongqing yesterday.

Shanghai gained nearly 2 per cent yesterday after a circuit breaker system investors blamed for exacerbating this week's massive selloff was suspended. Hong Kong was up 0.6 per cent and South Korea rose 0.7 per cent.

Moves by China to lift the yuan's value and direct state-controlled funds to buy shares also helped calm nerves.

As worries over China eased, investors shifted their attention to United States payrolls data released early this morning that may provide clues on the timing of Federal Reserve interest rate increases.

"If the jobs report is good, then the market rally may continue next week. The upcoming US inflation data is also expected to be weak, which translates to slower pace of rate hikes," remisier Alvin Yong said.

Noble Group was the most active stock traded yesterday with 185.8 million shares changing hands.

The counter closed 1.4 per cent down at 34 cents with traded after the commodities trader was hit with a second credit-rating downgrade.

The second most active counter was China Sports which skyrocketed 26.7 per cent or 0.4 cents to 1.9 cents with 81.7 million shares traded after substantial shareholder Osim International boosted its stake to 14.16 per cent on Dec 31, from 9.34 per cent.

Stratech was another active counter as it edged up 5 per cent to four cents on a volume of 75.5 million shares.

gleong@sph.com.sg