Bulls And Bears

Asian bourses extend gains on positive data

Strong Australian retail, trade numbers boost sentiment; STI at year-to-date high

More positive data landing on the back of improving prospects of a trade deal kept investors in a buoyant mood again yesterday.

A key boost for sentiment across Asia came from strong Australian retail and trade numbers that helped offset warnings from International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde of slower growth in many economies.

The Straits Times Index (STI) extended the week's rally to close at 3,311.27, up 31.49 points or 0.96 per cent - a new year-to-date high.

CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang said there is a possibility that the STI can challenge the 3,400-point level soon, given that the banking stocks - which have a total index weight of about 40 per cent - have been gaining.

"However, investors should remain cautious about the upcoming earnings season, which may turn out to be a reality check for stock markets," she added.

Markets in Australia, Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong and Malaysia all closed with broad gains.

Trading volumes here have been low of late, but they clocked in at 1.83 billion securities worth $1.42 billion yesterday while gainers thumped losers 245 to 190.

A sizeable amount of the volume was down to Ying Li International with trade of 775.6 million shares.

The volume was mostly due to a unit of Hong Kong-listed China Everbright purchasing 767.1 million shares or 30 per cent of the total outstanding stock of Ying Li from Newest Luck Holdings at 14 cents per share.

China Everbright plans to keep Ying Li listed and does not aim to exercise any right of compulsory acquisition, but said it will re-evaluate if the free float requirements are not met at the close of the offer.

Ying Li, a Chongqing-based developer, rose 0.7 per cent to 13.9 cents.

DBS added 2.5 per cent to $26.73 and is now up 12.8 per cent this year. OCBC Bank put on 1.8 per cent to $11.55, while United Overseas Bank added 1.4 per cent to $26.10.

Among non-STI counters, Rex International was boosted by higher Brent crude prices, which rose above US$70 a barrel for the first time in five months during the Asian session. The energy company's stock closed at 8.2 cents.

Meanwhile, Tritech Group continued to trade heavily but closed flat on 5.3 cents after it revealed late on Tuesday that it had signed a partnership agreement for a project worth 727 million yuan (S$146.7 million).

The company's stock surged 82.8 per cent in the four sessions leading up to the announcement.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 04, 2019, with the headline 'Asian bourses extend gains on positive data'. Print Edition | Subscribe