Bulls And Bears

Better-than-expected economic data lifts STI

Telcos StarHub and M1 put up good showing, with Singtel the biggest booster on the STI

Local shares continued to gain ground yesterday, thanks to further rises in the United States and better-than-expected economic numbers here.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) climbed 4.03 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 2,843.72, with 1.33 billion shares worth $1.23 billion changing hands across the bourse.

This came as Wall Street rose 0.31 per cent overnight amid optimism that the US economy is ready for the next interest rate hike, likely as soon as next month. The US stock markets were closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

Market sentiment was also lifted by data that showed the Singapore economy expanded 1.1 per cent in the third quarter, topping analyst expectations.

Still, KGI Securities (Singapore) trading strategist Nicholas Teo believes the gloomy sentiment here is unlikely to ease, given the soft spots in trade and the Singdollar's falls against the greenback. "For the moment, however, this (data) has offered some life to the local markets," he said.

Other markets in the region were mixed: Tokyo rose 0.94 per cent as trading resumed after a holiday, while Shanghai inched up 0.02 per cent. Hong Kong slid 0.3 per cent, Seoul lost 0.84 per cent and Jakarta sank 2 per cent.

At home, telco Singtel was the biggest booster, rising 11 cents or 3 per cent to $3.73 in heavy trade, amid speculation that Singtel is set to list its broadband unit NetLink Trust. IFR, a Thomson Reuters publication, said last week that Singtel had hired three banks to manage an initial public offering of up to US$2.5 billion (S$3.6 billion) for NetLink.

StarHub also put up a strong showing, gaining seven cents or 2.5 per cent to $2.87, while M1 was up 4.5 cents or 2.3 per cent to $2.

Acromec, a specialist engineering services provider, surged 6.5 cents or 20 per cent to 39 cents, after announcing on Wednesday night that it is buying a 60 per cent stake in Golden Harvest Engineering for $1.86 million. Hosen Group, which drew a trading query from the Singapore Exchange (SGX) at around 12.30pm, shot up 0.7 cent or 17.1 per cent to 4.8 cents.

ISR Capital requested a trading halt after also receiving an SGX query - its fourth in six months. It said the halt was "pending replies to SGX queries". The SGX asked the company on Monday if its Al Maynard valuation report was done in accordance with listing rules.

The stock last traded at 12.7 cents, after plunging 15.8 cents or 55.4 per cent, on market talk that brokers were "limiting clients' exposure to the counter", NetAsia Research said in a note. "Dealers said investors grew anxious when the company asked for an extension of time to respond to (the SGX queries)."

The day's most heavily traded share was commodity trader Noble Group, which was down 0.2 cent or 1.1 per cent to 18.1 cents on 121.2 million shares done.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2016, with the headline 'Better-than-expected economic data lifts STI '. Print Edition | Subscribe