Budding rebound in Singapore stocks seen picking up pace after election

The Straits Times Index is projected to rise about 12 per cent over the next 12 months. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - A new mandate to govern Singapore during the pandemic can bode well for the nascent rebound in the nation's US$383 billion (S$534 billion) stock market.

Shares of companies tied to the government's efforts to restore the economy and make it more resilient and digitized are set to benefit. Stocks such as Singapore Telecommunications, City Developments, Singapore Technologies Engineering (ST Engineering) and some real estate trusts are emerging as top bets from financial institutions such as Citigroup and Bank of Singapore.

Singapore equities have recovered more than a third of coronavirus-induced losses amid government stimulus and a reopening of the economy, and analysts are expecting the winner of the election on July 10 to take more steps in the same direction. While still a laggard in the region this year, the Straits Times Index is projected to rise about 12 per cent over the next 12 months, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

"With the early reopening of Phase 2 and barring any spike in new infection cases ahead, we expect to see a recovery" in stocks in the second half, Peng Chu, an analyst at Bank of Singapore, an arm of Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp, wrote in a note. "Any additional support measures from the government could be a bonus."

Singapore, which has more than 44,000 confirmed cases of the virus, has entered the second phase of its three-stage reopening, with the authorities assessing the infection situation to be under control. The government has pledged $93 billion in total virus relief, or 19.2 per cent of gross domestic product, and Fidelity International believes the city-state's stocks may perform better than emerging Asian markets because of the scale of fiscal support.

While there is no clear correlation between Singapore's stock market performance and elections, Citigroup's observations show the stock benchmark's one-month returns post polling date are historically positively linked to the ruling party's gains in the share of votes. For example, the Straits Times Index rose 3.8 per cent in the 30 days after the 2015 General Election in which the incumbent People's Action Party registered a 9.8 per cent gain in the popular vote.

The PAP has been in power since independence and is expected to remain so in this election.

Some analysts are betting that the economic reopening and a deepening trend of remote working and shopping online will continue no matter what the election outcome.

Joel Ng, an analyst KGI Securities (Singapore), is betting that the ongoing reopening of the economy will support travel-related stocks like Sats, Singapore Airlines, and ST Engineering. Justin Tang, the head of Asian research at United First Partners, said CapitaLand, which has retail as well as commercial properties, is likely to gain the most among some of the beaten-down stocks.

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