Singapore shares gain after Yellen soothes worries on Fed

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore shares were poised for their biggest daily gain in nearly two months on Thursday, after US Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen soothed uncertainties over the Fed's monetary stimulus.

The benchmark Straits Times Index gained 0.9 per cent to 3,193.85 points by midday. The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 1.2 per cent.

Palm oil firm Golden Agri-Resources was among the best performers, advancing as much as 3.5 per cent to $0.59, rebounding from a 2-1/2-week low in the previous session hit after the company reported a sharp decline in third-quarter net profit.

Golden Agri shares, which soared 15 per cent in October, are down 2.5 per cent this month. In a note on Wednesday, OCBC analysts remained downbeat on the outlook, noting that company management has forecast a decline in full year crude palm oil output even as it is positive on next year's market.

The OCBC analysts, saying the recent price rally "looks overdone", maintained a "sell" call on the stock and a target price at $0.465.

Shares of agricultural company Olam International rose as much as 2.4 per cent to $1.51, its highest in more than one week, after announcing a sale and lease-back of its Australia almond orchards for A$200 million (S$232.3 million).

The deal will help monetize about half of Olam's assets linked to its Australia orchard, said Citi Research in a note, adding that orchards are likely to drive the company's edible nuts segment earning and cash generation as it matures. Citi has a "buy" rating and target price of $2.60 on the stock.

Olam is due to report quarterly results later Thursday.

Singapore Telecommunications shares rose 0.8 per cent to $3.79. Southeast Asia's largest telecommunications operator reported weaker-than-expected net profit for the second quarter as strong Singapore dollar hit overseas earnings.