Bulls And Bears

Bank stocks boost local bourse amid CNY cheer

Index up almost 2% for the week; ThaiBev tops actives list after Q1 profit plunge

Chinese New Year cheer was in the air as Singapore stocks retraced their steps in a busy half-day session yesterday.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) closed up by 40.65 points, or 1.19 per cent, at 3,443.51 - erasing the previous day's 12.21-point slip.

The movement put the index up by 1.98 per cent for the week, and 1.19 per cent in the year to date.

It was the same happy story for the rest of the bourse, with gainers outnumbering losers 272 to 123.

About 1.1 billion shares worth $1.04 billion changed hands.

Positive quarterly results from all three local lenders gave the index a fillip, with DBS finishing higher by 0.89 per cent at $28.28, UOB gaining 3.05 per cent to $27.04 and OCBC up by 4.24 per cent to $12.78.

With the banking stocks being the darling of yesterday's traders, the STI ticker stayed solidly in the green. This was in spite of the price dip in other index counters.

Thai Beverage was a hot stock, topping the actives list with 102.48 million shares traded, but for all the wrong reasons.

Done in by a 62.3 per cent plunge in first-quarter net profit, as well as analyst concerns over the cost of an acquisition, ThaiBev sank by six cents, or 6.59 per cent, to 85 cents.

Singtel lost two cents to $3.33.

StarHub, hit by a 74 per cent fall in fourth-quarter earnings, shed 29 cents, or 10.14 per cent, to $2.57, on a turnover of 12.74 million shares.

Still, banks recovering from non-performing loans were not the only firms to see the light at the end of the oil-and-gas tunnel.

After tough times for the offshore support vessel segment, Marco Polo Marine was the day's third-most traded stock, on a volume of 45.73 million shares. It gained 0.2 cent, or 5.13 per cent, to 4.1 cents.

Traders from North America to Europe to the Asia-Pacific seemed unfazed by the strong United States inflation numbers that came in the night before.

ANZ economists Tom Kenny and Kanika Bhatnagar have noted that, with a 0.5 per cent month-on-month rise in the US consumer price index, "strong above-trend growth and limited spare capacity are providing greater confidence about the return on a sustained basis of core inflation".

Hong Kong, also running on a half-day session, saw the Hang Seng finish up by 1.97 per cent. Seoul was already shut yesterday for the holidays.

The Singapore bourse is closed today and trading resumes on Monday, when Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat will deliver the national Budget statement.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2018, with the headline 'Bank stocks boost local bourse amid CNY cheer'. Print Edition | Subscribe