Singapore shares ended a topsy-turvy week with strong gains following a region-wide rally, as Chinese regulators flagged their willingness to sustain growth with more monetary easing.
The benchmark Straits Times Index surged 45.98 points or 1.77 per cent to close at 2,649.38, ending a two-day slide sparked by oil price woes. A total of 1.17 billion shares worth $906.9 million were transacted across the whole market.
Despite the gain, the STI still slid 0.28 per cent for the week.
The oil price rose slightly overnight above US$35 a barrel, but its recovery still looks to be weak.
Market watchers were relieved to hear Chinese central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan say yesterday that monetary easing is still an effective policy tool.
Shanghai went up 0.96 per cent in response, and Hong Kong put on a more bullish 2.52 per cent. This followed the 1.29 per cent rise to the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Back in Singapore, Sembcorp Marine and Keppel Corp were among the top-gaining blue chips yesterday, when 26 of the 30 STI constituent counters closed higher.
Sembcorp Marine surged 6.5 cents or 4.39 per cent to $1.545, and Keppel Corp rose 15 cents or 2.99 per cent to $5.16, both reversing from their poor form earlier this week. But these day-to-day movements do not erase the headwinds, KGI Fraser Securities analyst Joel Ng cautioned.
While caution is key amid the uncertainties, there are still sound choices in the oil and gas sector.
"Look for those with strong cash flow and diversified businesses. My picks include Triyards Holdings, which has seen success in branching out to service the renewable energy sector, and China Aviation Oil," Mr Ng said.
Triyards jumped two cents or 5.26 per cent to 40 cents, and China Aviation Oil leapt 6.5 cents or 10.57 per cent to 68 cents. Triyards' parent Ezra Holdings also powered ahead 0.9 cent or 17.31 per cent to 6.1 cents on 122 million shares traded - the day's most active counter.
Noble was also among the top-gaining blue chips, surging two cents or 5.97 per cent to 35.5 cents. The commodity firm announced on Thursday a US$1.67 billion (S$2.3 billion) loss for 2015 due to impairments, but said it is close to securing refinancing from banks.
Only four STI counters closed lower. Hutchison Port Holdings Trust dropped one US cent or 2.22 per cent to 44 US cents; Thai Beverage pared one cent or 1.43 per cent to 69 cents; SIA Engineering went down one cent or 0.29 per cent to $3.45; and Sats shed one cent or 0.26 per cent to $3.90.
Outside the STI, the punting on Yuuzoo, QT Vascular and Spackman Entertainment continued yesterday. All three were among the top active plays, with Yuuzoo adding 3.1 cents or 18.34 per cent to close at 20 cents on 82.7 million shares traded.