Singapore markets rebound on steady oil prices, STI closes 31 points up

SGX Centre 1 at Shenton Way Road in the Raffles Place District.
SGX Centre 1 at Shenton Way Road in the Raffles Place District. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore shares rebounded, led by firmer Dow futures and oil prices staying above US$40 (S$55.3) per barrel on Wednesday on expectations that the world's largest exporters plan to meet on March 20 to freeze production.

The Straits Times Index jumped 1.14 per cent or 31.66 points to 2,810.43, lifted by Singtel, which gained 1.3 per cent or five cents to S$3.77; Keppel Corp, which rose nearly 4 per cent or 23 cents to S$6 and Sembcorp Industries climbed 5.5 per cent or 16 cents to S$3.06.

Banking counters also fuelled the rebound, with DBS up 0.7 per cent or 11 cents to S$15.23; OCBC rose 1 per cent or nine cents to S$8.73, UOB gained 1.3 per cent or 23 cents to S$18.40.

"The near term resistance is at 2,850. Any good news from the European Central Bank's meeting (today) will help bring us there," remisier Chung Chun He said.

Oil and gas plays were again the most actively traded. Ezra Holdings surged 20 per cent or two cents to 12 cents, with 718 million shares traded.

Both Ezra and its subsea services division EMAS Offshore got queried on Tuesday by the Singapore Exchange over unusual volume movements. Both companies responded that they review options to "enhance shareholders' value and, in connection with this, hold discussions with parties regarding possible transactions."

"As at (Tuesday), no definitive agreements in relation to any transactions have been entered into by the company, its subsidiaries or associated companies, and there can be no assurance or reasonable certainty that any discussions or prospects will be successfully concluded," they said.

UOB KayHian maintained a market weight call on the offshore marine sector, which it says has racked up loss provisions totalling US$2.2 billion.

While shipyards are likely to report further asset impairment, analyst Nancy Wei has a top buy call on Keppel Corp and Ezion Holdings, and top sell calls on SembMarine and Nam Cheong.

Nam Cheong, another actively traded counter, was up 9.3 per cent or one cent to 11.8 cents, with 49.8 million shares traded. Ezion was up 3.3 per cent or two cents to 63 cents, with 44 million shares traded.

Meanwhile, water treatment firm Hyflux soared 11.5 per cent or 6.5 cents to 63 cents, on news that it has secured a letter of intent for a contract by the General Authority for the Suez Canal Economic Zone to build the Ain Sokhna Integrated Water and Power Project in Egypt.

The total value of the engineering, procurement and construction contract is US$500 million, Hyflux said.

gleong@sph.com.sg