Singapore stocks recover slightly, STI ends 35 points up for the week

SINGAPORE - Singapore stocks recovered somewhat on Friday, although investors remained cautious over political uncertainty in the United States.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) inched up 4.08 points, or 0.13 per cent, to 3,175.44 - up 35.61 points or 1.13 per cent for the week.

Most other markets in the region pulled back, with Hong Kong easing 0.34 per cent and Tokyo down 0.29 per cent.

Shanghai climbed 0.08 per cent but posted their worst month of the year, amid fears that regulators will step up their latest crackdown on riskier types of financing and speculation.

"It's a busy end to the week with a lot of data out of both Europe and the US," Mr Jim Reid, a strategist at Deutsche Bank in London, said in a Bloomberg report. "Ahead of (the) first 100 days of Trump today we'll see if a shutdown can be avoided."

Mr Trump's one-page tax reform plan has failed to excite markets given the lack of details, while the Republican-controlled Congress has struggled to meet a midnight Friday deadline to strike a final deal on funding through September 30, the end of the fiscal year, which could lead to a government shutdown.

At home, most of the gains on the STI were led by the local lenders. United Overseas Bank rose 1.5 per cent or 33 cents to S$21.80, after posting a 5.4 per cent growth in first-quarter net earnings to S$807 million.

A DBS Equity Research report put out a "buy" call on the stock with a target price of S$22.70, noting that the bank's asset quality improvements and the management's positive stance - it had said the worst of non-performing loan issues should be over - should be catalysts for the stock.

DBS Group Holdings gained 0.7 per cent or 14 cents to $19.35 while OCBC Bank put on 0.6 per cent or six cents to $9.80. DBS is due to relase first-quarter results next Tuesday, followed by OCBC on May 9.

Commodity plays also fared well, with Wilmar International adding 0.6 per cent or two cents to $3.55, and Golden Agri-Resources up 1.4 per cent or half a cent to 36 cents.

Rigbuilder Sembcorp Marine An RHB report maintained a "neutral" rating on the stock. It expects the core loss this quarter to be reversed in the coming quarters as the floater issue is rectified, as well as with continued progress for the projects in hand.

Meanwhile, shares of Global Premium Hotels were suspended from trading after its public float fell below 10 per cent, ahead of its delisting. The company is being taken private by JK Global Capital, owned by chairman Koh Wee Meng.

The stock last traded at 36.5 cents on Thursday.

Commodity trader Noble Group was the day's most heavily traded counter, sliding 2.1 per cent or 0.3 cent to 14.3 cents on 68.7 million shares done.

Turnover across the bourse came up to 1.25 billion shares worth S$1.52 billion.