Bulls And Bears

STI starts month in positive territory

Penny plays in oil and gas sector most active amid fallout from Swiber's liquidation plans

Local shares began the month on a higher note after weaker-than-expected growth in the US assured traders that a rate hike is unlikely soon, and Asia remains in play.

The more optimistic mood sent the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) up 23.8 points or 0.83 per cent to 2,892.5, led by Jardine Cycle & Carriage, which rose $2.42 or 6.17 per cent to $41.65.

Elsewhere in the region, Hong Kong was up by 1.09 per cent after fresh Caixin factory data beat analysts expectations, although Shanghai dipped 0.87 per cent amid concern over reported curbs on wealth management products.

The Nikkei 225 stayed resilient, up 0.4 per cent on short-covering as the yen's strengthening seemed capped by the Bank of Japan's hint of more easing to come.

Penny plays in the oil and gas sector here continued to be the most active as traders watched the fallout triggered by Swiber Holdings' liquidation plans last Thursday. Swiber later surprised the market by saying it intends to operate under judicial management instead.

Pacific Radiance tumbled four cents to an all-time low of 17 cents after the firm said last Friday that it expects to make a provision of US$10.1 million (S$13.5 million) for receivables for services rendered to Swiber-related entities.

Vallianz Holdings was the most active stock, with 124 million shares changing hands. It closed 0.2 cent higher at 2.4 cents after saying that its order book comprises mainly contracts with third-party customers unrelated to Swiber, which has a controlling stake in Vallianz. Trading in Swiber remains suspended.

The second and third most-traded stocks were Ezra Holdings, which closed 0.3 cent lower at 4.7 cents on volume of 103 million shares, and Annica Holdings, unchanged at 0.1 cent.

Sembcorp Marine fell 1.5 cents to $1.395, its third straight day of losses after its results disappointed last week.

DBS, a major creditor of Swiber, fell five cents to $15.36, whereas UOB was up nine cents at $18.29, and OCBC rose six cents at $8.66.

Mr Kelvin Tay, UBS Wealth Management's regional chief investment officer for southern Asia-Pacific, said: "Oil prices stabilising at the current level (below US$43 a barrel last night) has helped some commodity players and banks, which were sold off sharply last week as a result of negative news... from Swiber."

Meanwhile, Sino Grandness Food Industry Group fell sharply in the morning before retracing upwards just as quickly, prompting a query from the Singapore Exchange.

The group said the unusual activity may have been the result of a Chinese news article which investors may have misread to suggest that some of the company's beverage and canned products had failed some quality tests in China. The counter closed three cents lower at 55.5 cents.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2016, with the headline 'STI starts month in positive territory'. Print Edition | Subscribe