Bulls And Bears

Asian bourses off to rousing start for Q2

Key data from Beijing and positive mood over US-China talks lift markets

The second quarter got off to a rousing start yesterday as investors seized on some welcome news from the region.

Key numbers from China showed that official and private purchasing managers' index figures for last month not only beat expectations but also turned around three months of contraction.

CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang said the data releases "left markets in Asia invigorated".

And the upbeat mood around United States-China trade talks and last Friday's session on Wall Street sweetened the positive sentiment for investors. It all helped the Straits Times Index gain 37.63 points, or 1.17 per cent, to 3,250.51.

Elsewhere, Australia, Japan, South Korea, China and Hong Kong all ended higher, with Shanghai jumping 2.6 per cent to a 10-month high. Malaysia bucked the trend, falling 0.9 per cent.

Despite market catalysts, trading volumes continued to be subdued here, clocking in at 898.08 million shares worth $1 billion with gainers outpacing losers 278 to 146.

IG market strategist Pan Jingyi noted: "As a whole, the market is still mulling over the uncertain geopolitical and growth outlook, which has not aided investors into having greater market conviction."

Genting Singapore was the bourse's most active counter with 39.2 million shares traded as it ended 1 per cent up at $1.05.

Venture Corporation was the blue-chip index's big gainer. The electronics manufacturing services firm added 3.1 per cent to $18.50 with 1.24 million shares traded.

DBS Bank advanced 1.4 per cent to $25.59, while OCBC closed 1.4 per cent higher at $11.21 and United Overseas Bank put on 0.9 per cent to $25.42.

Rising oil prices, thanks to the tailwinds of a Chinese economic recovery and a potential Iranian supply disruption, meant that counters related to black gold also courted the attention of investors.

Among them, Rex International saw the most activity, adding 6.8 per cent to 7.9 cents on 36.6 million shares traded.

Tritech Group continued to be actively traded after receiving a query from the bourse operator last Friday. It fell 8.7 per cent to 4.2 cents after almost gaining 60 per cent in the previous session. UOB Kay Hian vice-president of equities and financial products Brandon Leu said the counter's recent activity could be due to speculative actions.

Looking ahead, Phillip Securities principal trading representative Marcus Toh noted that most companies report first-quarter results this month, so "investors will position trades on results releases".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2019, with the headline 'Asian bourses off to rousing start for Q2'. Print Edition | Subscribe