Bulls and bears

Local banks among gainers on STI

Singtel, oil and gas-related plays like Keppel Corp and Sembcorp Marine also do well

The Singapore market yesterday put in one of its strongest showings in recent years as it continued to ride high on market confidence.

The benchmark Straits Times Index charged ahead by 60.66 points, or 2.22 per cent, to 2,787.62 to reach its highest level since Jan 7.

Sentiment elsewhere in the region was buoyant as well, though to a lesser extent: Tokyo rose 1.3 per cent, Shanghai climbed 0.4 per cent and Sydney gained 1.2 per cent.

Hong Kong was an outlier, sliding 0.3 per cent from a seven-week high, while Kuala Lumpur dipped 0.2 per cent.

Wall Street had inched up 0.2 per cent overnight, helped by a private payrolls report which showed United States companies added more workers than projected last month.

"We're starting to see that the US economy is stronger than we thought, and uncertainties are clearing away," Mr Masahiro Ichikawa, a senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management, told Bloomberg. "That led to US share gains and that's following through into Japan."

At home, the STI's stellar performance - driven by " further unwinding in safe haven trades", according to a report by NetResearch Asia - was largely boosted by the local banks.

DBS Group Holdings added 47 cents or 3.3 per cent to $14.71, OCBC Bank grew 29 cents or 3.5 per cent to $8.60, while United Overseas Bank advanced 56 cents or 3.2 per cent to $18.21.

Telco Singtel also contributed to the gains as it put on six cents or 1.6 per cent to $3.80.

Oil and gas-related plays continued to gain ground in active trade as Brent crude prices stayed steady at levels of US$36 a barrel. Keppel Corporation shot up 31 cents or 5.6 per cent to $5.80. Sembcorp Marine jumped 7.5 cents or 4.7 per cent to $1.655 while parent company Sembcorp Industries leapt 16 cents or 5.6 per cent to $3.03.

Commodity trader Noble Group enjoyed another good run, soaring 3.5 cents or 10.1 per cent to 38 cents.

The group announced after trading closed that it has completed the sale of its remaining stake in Noble Agri and received the US$750 million (S$1 billion) for the transaction, which will be used to repay debt.

Among the day's handful of laggards were Global Logistic Properties, which slipped one cent or 0.5 per cent to $1.85, and Capitaland Mall Trust, which dropped three cents or 1.4 per cent to $2.13.

Ezra Holdings was again the day's most active counter, with 178.2 units traded. The stock jumped 0.3 cents or 4.1 per cent to 7.7 cents.

Other offshore and marine penny counters also kept busy. Technics Oil & Gas soared 3.3 cents or 25.4 per cent to 16.3 cents, while Ezion Holdings rose 3.5 cents or 6.8 per cent to 55 cents.

Turnover across the bourse was a healthy 2.05 billion shares worth $1.84 billion.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2016, with the headline 'Local banks among gainers on STI'. Subscribe