Buying interest in banks fuels STI's rise

Singtel and SGX dip; property players lifted by positive financial results

Investors turned their attention to the banks and kept the market in positive territory for another day.

The buying interest sent the Straits Times Index up 30.09 points, or 0.89 per cent, to 3,415.07 yesterday. But IG Asia market strategist Pan Jingyi warned that "a convincing return above the 3,400 level remains to be seen".

While the three lenders thrived yesterday - DBS Group Holdings added 32 cents to $27.63, OCBC Bank put on 31 cents to $12.57, and United Overseas Bank advanced 49 cents to $26.84 - Singtel was hit again, shedding three cents to $3.33.

Singapore Exchange also dipped on concerns that it might be shut out from one part of the lucrative trade in Indian derivatives. The counter slipped one cent to $7.30.

CapitaLand had a positive day, putting on five cents to $3.52, as the market weighed a 37.8 per cent drop in fourth-quarter net profit against its $728 million purchase of Pearl Bank Apartments.

Some smaller real estate and construction players were also lifted by positive financial results amid a resurgent property sector and committed infrastructure investments.

Bukit Sembawang Estates was up 10 cents to $6.13, after third-quarter earnings doubled due to higher sales and profit recognition.

Catalist-listed Koh Brothers Eco Engineering added 0.5 cent, or 6.41 per cent, to 8.3 cents, on the back of a 15 per cent year-on-year increase in full-year net profit.

Oil prices have been shaky in the wake of last week's equities volatility and ahead of official American stockpile and production numbers.

The uncertainty hit Mermaid Maritime, which slipped one cent, or 6.14 per cent, to 15.3 cents on a volume of 32.52 million shares.

Marco Polo Marine, which is being bailed out by white-knight family friends, lost 0.2 cent, or 4.76 per cent, to four cents with 43.61 million shares traded. It reported a net loss of $6.6 million for the first quarter after trading hours.

Blue-chip Sembcorp Marine recovered a tad from a last-minute sell-off on Monday, adding 12 cents, or 5.06 per cent, to $2.49 on turnover of 24.9 million shares. The company told the bourse operator that it knew of no reason for the unusual trading activity.

Hopes are dimming that parent Sembcorp Industries will privatise or divest the unit.

Asian markets were mostly up. The Hang Seng gained 1.29 per cent and the Shanghai Composite added 0.98 per cent, but the Nikkei dipped 0.65 per cent.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2018, with the headline 'Buying interest in banks fuels STI's rise'. Subscribe