Singapore shares rallied on renewed institutional buying interest in energy counters, with at least one analyst suggesting the worst may be over for the beleaguered offshore marine sector.
The Straits Times Index jumped 0.84 per cent or 26.16 points to close at 3,122.77.
The index was boosted by Yangzijiang Shipbuilding, which leapt 5.9 per cent or 5.5 cents to 98 cents after posting a jump in its fourth-quarter net profit on lower expenses and recognition of advance payment from terminated shipbuilding contracts.
"Keep an eye on the valuation of Cosco Corp's shipyards that are being taken over, it can have an impact on Yangzijiang," a dealer said.
Institutional buying, coupled with speculation that Keppel Corp and Sembcorp Marine may combine their offshore marine businesses, drove their stocks to new year highs.
"The way the stocks bulldozed higher shortly after the market opened probably triggered some stops and took out some short-sellers," a trader said.
Keppel Corp put on 28 cents or 4.1 per cent to $7.09, while SembMarine rose 7 per cent or 12.5 cents to $1.905.
"Our call last week that the oil and gas sector is poised to overtake property as the top performing sector proved timely," DBS Group Research said.
The FTSE ST Oil & Gas Index is up 17 per cent so far this year, powered by Keppel, Sembcorp Industries and SembMarine, and oil services stocks such as Ezion Holdings. "Sentiment in the sector was fired up after SembMarine reported no major impairments for its fourth-quarter results. This lifted optimism that the worst of the asset impairments may have passed," the broker said.
Meanwhile, the Singapore Exchange will allow ISR Capital to resume trading next Monday after it was disclosed in court on Tuesday that alleged penny stock crash mastermind John Soh Chee Wen manipulated ISR shares, and was also involved in the firm's management.
ISR shares have been suspended since Nov 27 after SGX cited "circumstances that prevented trading in ISR shares on an informed basis".
Singapore Medical Group gained 1.7 per cent or one cent at 59.5 cents after RHB put out a buy call as the firm's recent tie-up with South Korea's CHA Healthcare could open up more opportunities across Asia.
Among the most actively traded counters, Noble Group lost 4.3 per cent or one cent to 22 cents, with 120.2 million shares traded; Artivision Tech soared 18.2 per cent or 0.4 cent to 2.6 cents with 95 million shares changing hands, while Healthway Medical dipped 2.2 per cent or 0.1 cent to 4.4 cents, with 46.1 million shares traded.
Hong Leong Asia, the trade and industrial arm of Hong Leong Group, plunged 15.4 per cent or 20 cents to $1.10 after its full year net losses widened to $71.3 million from $60.7 million a year ago. Revenue fell by 8.8 per cent year on year from $4.08 billion to $3.72 billion, due mainly to China's slowing economy.