Bulls And Bears

Banks push up STI after market correction

Index rises 0.23% but losers outnumber gainers, with SGX taking big hit

Last week's market correction threw traders worldwide into a tizzy, but the local bourse still edged upwards at the close yesterday, fuelled by optimism over banking stocks.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) finished higher by 7.74 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 3,384.98. An afternoon sell-off pushed the index down from its intra-day peak of 3,400.36.

All the same, the overall bourse saw losers beat gainers 266 to 208. Close to 2.47 billion shares changed hands, for a value of $1.62 billion.

The index was lifted by all three local banks.

DBS Group Holdings last week bumped up its dividends in a new payout policy, after clocking record fourth-quarter earnings.

While its staff were handed gold cufflinks and necklaces, investors perhaps saw a golden ticket instead. The counter finished up by 60 cents, or 2.25 per cent, to $27.31.

Both OCBC Bank and United Overseas Bank (UOB) will report their results before the market opens tomorrow, and shareholders may be warming up to the idea of a rosy Valentine's Day. OCBC added seven cents, or 0.57 per cent, to $12.26, and UOB was up by 11 cents, or 0.42 per cent, to $26.35.

But Singtel could not shake off the pall cast by the drop in its third-quarter net profit announced last week. The telco shed two cents, or 0.59 per cent, to $3.36, on a volume of 27.67 million shares.

Another beleaguered index constituent was Singapore Exchange (SGX), which was down by 58 cents, or 7.35 per cent, to $7.31, with 19.48 million shares changing hands.

The bourse operator has taken a hit from the news that India's national stock exchanges are looking to end the trading of offshore derivatives tied to benchmark Indian indices such as the popular SGX Nifty 50 index futures.

Off the index, QT Vascular topped the actives list for stocks. About 129.39 million shares were traded, with the price higher by 0.2 cent, or 11.11 per cent, to two cents.

Asian equities made broad gains yesterday, with Shanghai up by 0.78 per cent and Seoul by 0.91 per cent, due to what stock watchers pegged as bargain-hunting. The Hang Seng, though, saw no reprieve, sliding by 0.16 per cent.

Phillip Capital analysts, in their monthly market outlook for the STI, described the current sentiment as "bearish", but added that when it comes to the Singapore index, "the long-term uptrend remains intact".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2018, with the headline 'Banks push up STI after market correction'. Print Edition | Subscribe