Bulls And Bears

Asian markets edge up despite wary mood

Shanghai up 1% but China's stimulus assurances fail to spur buying across region

Brexit may have dominated the headlines this week but investors here and across the region were more focused on economic data from the United States and China.

But even news yesterday that China has pledged to prop up slowing economic growth with fiscal stimulus and progress on trade talks failed to ignite buying sentiment among jaded traders.

The wary mood left the Straits Times Index (STI) up just 2.26 points or 0.07 per cent to 3,200.18 and a measly 4.31 points or 0.1 per cent ahead for the week.

Elsewhere, markets in Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong and Malaysia ended in the black. Shanghai fared best, adding 1 per cent on the back of the Chinese government's stimulus assurances.

Australia bucked the trend, dipping a tad as US-China trade talks hit mining stocks.

Trading here hit 1.59 billion securities worth $1.82 billion, with gainers trumping losers 206 to 169.

Thomson Medical Group was the most active with a remarkable 166.6 million shares done as it finished 1.3 per cent up at eight cents.Half of those trades occurred in the last half hour of trading.

A remisier noted that the firm has an outstanding warrant that expires on April 24 at a strike price of eight cents - yesterday's closing price. This may have caused some jockeying on the underlying share to keep the warrant "in the money", which closed at 0.1 cent.

There were 17 winners among the STI's 30 constituents, including DBS Bank which added 0.2 per cent to $25.14. ThaiBev, which ended 0.6 per cent down at 81.5 cents, was the STI's most active counter with 39.4 million shares done.

Singtel dipped initially following Moody's outlook downgrade on Monday and a possible rating downgrade by Standard and Poor's, but it has rallied since Tuesday. The stock added to Thursday's gains to close up 1.3 per cent at $3.03 yesterday and 3.1 per cent ahead for the week.

UOB Kay Hian vice-president of equities and financial products Brandon Leu said: "The performance has showed market confidence in Singtel at the current price level and we are closely watching for a technical price reversal."

IG market strategist Pan Jingyi noted that prices rose in the early session "on a likely defensive play".

Oxley Holdings was active, adding 3 per cent to 34 cents after it moved to sell its Chevron House property. Mr Leu said the firm's move "gave the market increasing confidence in Oxley's outlook".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2019, with the headline 'Asian markets edge up despite wary mood'. Print Edition | Subscribe