Investors come to their senses post-Brexit

Global stock markets recoup losses, with STI closing just below its level before British vote

It was unthinkable over the weekend when investors worldwide were panicking over Brexit but global markets have almost fully recouped their losses since.

London's FTSE 100 rose 2 per cent early yesterday to above 6,260 while overnight, Wall Street was just as buoyant with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 1.57 per cent.

In Asia, Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) ended 36.20 points or 1.31 per cent up at 2,792.73, just a hair below the 2,793 close before the Brexit vote. Shares worth $939.5 million were traded.

Shanghai rose 0.65 per cent, Hong Kong gained 1.31 per cent, the Nikkei added 1.59 per cent, Kuala Lumpur closed up 0.50 per cent and Sydney added 0.77 per cent.

Investors are calming down, having realised they overreacted, said Bank of Singapore investment strategist James Cheo. "The sell-off after Brexit was excessive, because it's hard to have the right economic assessment for an unprecedented event like that. Part of the recovery is also from investors pricing in potential central bank actions."

These scenarios include more quantitative easing by both the European Central Bank and the Bank of England, as well as a further delay to rate hike by the United States Federal Reserve.

But caution is still important, until there is more clarity on the economic impact from Brexit, Mr Cheo added. "Trim your overweight exposure to Europe and European banks, and stick with emerging market high-yield or investment-grade bonds for now."

Of the 30 STI component stocks, 24 rose yesterday. Jardine Cycle & Carriage was the top gainer, rising $2 or 5.97 per cent to $35.50.

DBS closed up 23 cents or 1.5 per cent at $15.53, OCBC rose 10 cents or 1.19 per cent to $8.49 and United Overseas Bank added 27 cents or 1.53 per cent to $17.96.

Market watchers deem the three banks to be mostly insulated from Brexit due to minimal European exposure, but Moody's remains cautious, saying their overseas portfolios have outgrown their domestic portfolios, "leaving them vulnerable to the current subdued outlook for global and regional economies in general". It added that their non-performing loans will continue to come from their significant exposure to the energy industry.

Offshore and marine plays also rose: Keppel Corp added 11 cents or 2.08 per cent to $5.41 and Sembcorp Marine rose half a cent or 0.32 per cent to $1.545, likely benefiting from benchmark Brent rising to around US$49 a barrel.

Of the four STI stocks which fell, Golden Agri-Resources lost one cent or 2.9 per cent to 33.5 cents and Wilmar International shed one cent or 0.31 per cent to $3.23.

Outside the STI, Noble Group was the top active, with 94.6 million shares traded. It lost 0.4 cent or 2.22 per cent to 17.6 cents, ahead of the June 30 book closure date for its rights issue.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2016, with the headline 'Investors come to their senses post-Brexit'. Print Edition | Subscribe