Bulls And Bears

Asian markets rise as optimism reigns

Investors betting on positive outcomes on Brexit and US-China trade war

Local investors took their cue from a buoyant Wall Street overnight showing and banked on positive outcomes on Brexit and the US-China trade conflict yesterday.

The risk-friendly mood sent the Straits Times Index (STI) up 20.83 points, or 0.65 per cent, to 3,212.25.

Trading clocked in at 1.18 billion shares worth $1.09 billion with gainers beating losers 261 to 183.

The positive sentiment was evident across the region with markets in Japan, South Korea, mainland China, Hong Kong and Malaysia all trading broadly higher.

Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei index was the big gainer on the day, closing up 1.8 per cent. But Australia bucked the trend with the ASX 200 edging lower at the tail end of the session as gains made by mining and energy counters failed to offset losses in financial shares.

There were 26 gainers among the STI's 30 constituents, including Yangzijiang Shipbuilding, which was the index's most traded. It ended up 2.2 per cent to $1.41 with 32.3 million shares changing hands.

Singapore Exchange (SGX) continued to garner attention. Investors again took note of the Hong Kong stock exchange's plan to launch futures contracts on the MSCI China A Index and its possible effect on the SGX's China A50 Index futures product. SGX closed 1.6 per cent down at $7.35 with 10.3 million shares traded.

Wall Street's tech-led rally on Monday meant that some technology hardware and semiconductor counters were among the Singapore market's best performers.

IG market strategist Pan Jingyi noted that Apple's surge, coupled with Nvidia's acquisition announcement, was driving gains for tech stocks. UMS Holdings closed 9.7 per cent up at 79 cents, AEM Holdings added 3.3 per cent to $1.27, and Hi-P International put on 1.7 per cent to $1.75.

With Hi-P jumping 11 per cent on Monday as well, investor attention seemed to turn to UMS Holdings, said PhillipCapital principal trading representative Marcus Toh.

One trader noted on tech counters: "Quite a lot of people are moving into it. It is quite a hot sector."

However, Mr Brandon Leu, UOB Kay Hian's vice-president of equities and financial products, suggested that since the counters did not close near their intra-day highs, "we may see some profit-taking in the next few sessions".

Higher crude oil prices also lifted sentiment. Oil and gas company Rex International was the bourse's most traded with 60.9 million shares done. It finished 4.2 per cent higher at 7.5 cents. KrisEnergy closed 13 per cent up at 5.2 cents.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 13, 2019, with the headline 'Asian markets rise as optimism reigns '. Subscribe