Singapore markets kick off 2017 with a sprint in their step, regional markets also cheer

SINGAPORE - Singapore shares kicked off 2017 with a spring in their step on Tuesday giving investors some hope that there will be a good year ahead.

The benchmark Straits Times Index closed up 18.21 points or 0.63 per cent at 2,898.97 although trading was thin across the whole market, with only 884.1 million shares worth S$713.1 million changing hands.

CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang was among the hopeful ones after the positive first day: "It's a common industry belief that the first three trading days are very important indicator of how the rest of the year will unfold, so it was quite encouraging to see market go up."

News that Singapore's economy grew a surprisingly robust 1.8 per cent for the full year of 2016 offered another reason to cheer.

"Resilience in economy, crude oil prices holding steady - this year looks to be more promising than last year. Judging from the current volumes we're still not likely to see huge rallies, but it'll be great if the STI hits 3,000 in the first quarter," Ms Yang added.

China's markets also did well, with Hong Kong up 0.68 per cent and Shanghai rising 1.04 per cent. Tokyo remained closed for holiday.

The gains among the regional bourses followed advances by crude oil, with benchmark futures Brent getting above US$57 a barrel.

Against this backdrop, the offshore and marine plays had a good showing yesterday. Keppel Corp - one of the 20 STI gainers - added one cent or 0.17 per cent to $5.80.

Outside the benchmark, Sembcorp Marine was up 2.5 cents or 1.81 per cent to $1.405. Ezra Holdings gained 0.1 cent or 2.04 per cent to five cents with 24.2 million shares traded and Ezion Holdings put on half a cent or 1.30 per cent to 39 cents with 18.8 million shares traded.