Bulls And Bears

Improved mood over HK buoys Asian markets

Withdrawal of city's extradition Bill lifts sentiment but respite likely temporary

The flurry of activity yesterday on the markets certainly made up for Tuesday's quiet session.

Traders already had economic data from the United States and China to digest, but news that Hong Kong will withdraw its much-criticised extradition Bill galvanised sentiment.

The improved mood sent the Straits Times Index (STI) up 39.94 points or 1.3 per cent to 3,130.57.

Elsewhere, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea rose but Australia dipped, likely because markets closed before the developments in Hong Kong.

Unsurprisingly, the Hang Seng Index was the best regional performer, surging 3.9 per cent.

The Jardine counters here have significant exposure to Hong Kong and ranked among the STI's best performers yesterday.

Real estate player Hongkong Land was the standout, streaking ahead 8.3 per cent to US$5.89.

Hong Kong stocks may have turned in the strongest performance in Asia yesterday, but Oanda senior market analyst Edward Moya noted that it might just be a temporary reprieve.

Protests might continue as other demands such as a formal inquiry into police brutality, the release of protesters who have been arrested, and the promise of more democratic freedoms have yet to be met.

Investor appetite for risk-friendly assets was already in play before the Hong Kong news yesterday.

The manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) reading in the US entered contraction territory for the first time in three years, adding weight to the case for another interest rate cut.

Meanwhile, China's services PMI for August beat expectations while Singapore's manufacturing PMI fared better than in July.

Trading volume clocked here hit 1.39 billion shares worth $1.29 billion, with gainers trumping losers 274 to 163.

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding, which added 3.9 per cent to 94 cents, remained the most active counter, with 60.8 million shares changing hands. The Chinese firm said after market close that it inked new order contracts for five vessels.

As for banks, DBS climbed 0.8 per cent to $24.54, OCBC added 0.6 per cent to $10.71 and UOB put on 0.7 per cent to $25.10.

Transport operators got a lift from news that bus and train fares could go up by 7 per cent next year.

ComfortDelGro added 2.4 per cent to $2.52 while its subsidiary SBS Transit rose 1.5 per cent to $4.13.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2019, with the headline 'Improved mood over HK buoys Asian markets'. Print Edition | Subscribe