Bulls And Bears

Asia mostly up after French election

Pro-trade Emmanuel Macron's victory in presidential polls cheers markets

The Singapore market joined most of its regional peers in a positive showing yesterday as the French election results came in without any nasty surprises.

The Straits Times Index (STI) closed 7.25 points or 0.22 per cent higher at 3,236.98, in a somewhat active session that saw 1.56 billion shares worth $1.26 billion changing hands across the market.

Aside from Shanghai, which fell 0.79 per cent amid deepening fears of financial market regulation, Asian markets mostly closed higher. Hong Kong gained 0.41 per cent, Sydney put on 0.59 per cent and Tokyo rose 2.31 per cent.

Overall, the mood was upbeat after Mr Emmanuel Macron, who is pro-trade and friendly towards the European Union, won the French presidential election at the weekend. Still, widely-held expectations that he would win also limited the market reaction.

With United States President Donald Trump not causing as many policy shock waves as expected, global markets have entered a period of sudden calm with low volatility, Bank of Singapore chief investment officer Johan Jooste said.

"However, after the year-end rally, major markets have been trapped in a broadly sideways range, despite the solid showing on the (first-quarter) earnings front," he noted. "It may be the market is looking forward to the rest of the year and realising that the current pace of earnings will be difficult to sustain."

At home, OCBC Bank was among the 17 STI gainers, likely on expectations that it would deliver better-than-forecast first-quarter results today, following the trend set by its rivals DBS Group Holdings and United Overseas Bank (UOB).

The bank put on eight cents or 0.78 per cent to $10.30, hitting another new 12-month high and its highest since July 2015.

DBS fell 12 cents or 0.59 per cent to $20.30 while UOB added nine cents or 0.39 per cent to $23.44. Both banks have had a blistering run over the past two weeks.

The top STI gainer was Golden Agri-Resources, up 1.5 cents or 4.17 per cent to 37.5 cents on 35.8 million shares transacted. Wilmar International closed flat at $3.47.

DBS analyst Ben Santoso cautioned that Indonesia's latest biodiesel allocation - announced just last week by the government - was lower than expected, which could have a slight negative impact on crude palm oil prices and hence company earnings in the second half of the year.

Among the 10 STI losers, ComfortDelGro dropped the most, losing three cents or 1.1 per cent to $2.70. Singtel pared three cents or 0.8 per cent to $3.72 with 47.3 million traded shares - one of the day's most active counters.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2017, with the headline 'Asia mostly up after French election'. Print Edition | Subscribe