SINGAPORE - The local market started the week with a rebound, as sentiments in the region were lifted by Chinese government's message on Sunday that there is still plenty of headroom for stimulus policies to sustain the country's growth.
The benchmark Straits Times Index ended 13.27 points or 0.39 per cent higher to close at 3,376.04, rebounding from the slide last week when STI dropped 54.74 points while Wall Street went down 0.6 per cent as markets were spooked by the strong US dollar.
The key lift today came from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who said on March 15 that China "still have a host of policy instruments at (its) disposal" to put the growth momentum back in to China's slowing economy.
The oil slump in recent weeks will however add uncertainties to the market. Oil prices have started to weaken again since the start of March, and Brent futures dropped around 1 per cent to around US$54.1 per barrel.
Against that backdrop, transport plays including Singapore Airlines and ComfortDelGro rose as part of STI's rally. The national carrier was the top gainer, rising 41 cents or 3.53 per cent to $12.03. Expectations for savings on fuel costs were on investors' mind, as Tiger Airways also went up 1.5 cents or 4.84 per cent to 32.5 cents.
ComfortDelGro gained two cents or 0.68 per cent to $2.98, as the counter maintained its strong form in recent months. It surged to a 52-week high of $3.14 on Feb 11 when the group announced a record revenue of $4.05 billion for 2014.
On the other end of market, Noble Group dropped two cents or 2.11 per cent to 93 cents, just above the 52-week low of 92 cents amid scrutiny over the commodity player's impairment-hit performance.
Energy plays Sembcorp Marine and Keppel Corp also suffered due to the oil fall, with Sembcorp dropping three cents or 1.01 per cent to $2.95 while Keppel lost one cent or 0.11 per cent to $8.69.
Overseas, Shanghai and Hong Kong were both buoyant as China's policy outlook brightened, with Shanghai gaining 2.26 per cent to hit its highest since August 2009. Hong Kong followed suit with a 0.53 per cent rise.
Tokyo however dropped 0.04 per cent, as profit taking offset its surge in early trading yesterday that pushed Nikkei to a 15-year high. Kuala Lumpur also ended 0.07 per cent lower.