Bulls And Bears

Local banks lift STI to end at 2019 high

DBS leads the way with Q1 results; STI closes above 3,400 for first time this year

The buoyant local banks took the lead yesterday and all ended the day at 2019 highs - as did the index itself.

Their collective performance helped lift the Straits Times Index (STI) 50.07 points, or 1.49 per cent, to 3,407.02 - the first time it has closed above 3,400 this year.

DBS Group Holdings led the way after it posted an 8.5 per cent increase in first-quarter profit to $1.65 billion. The stock closed 3.61 per cent up at $28.40. It also changed its dividend payout frequency from semi-annually to quarterly.

"It was a really good set of results and changing to a quarterly dividend payout helps to lessen volatility of DBS' share price," said KGI Securities research head Joel Ng.

IG market strategist Pan Jingyi said DBS' performance also fuelled investor hopes that "it would be similar for the remaining two banks".

DBS' results helped OCBC Bank rise 2.6 per cent to $12.12 and United Overseas Bank put on 2.5 per cent to $27.97.

Mr Ng said: "The other banks have been laggards compared to DBS over the past one month and just catching up."

Elsewhere, South Korea and Hong Kong closed higher, while Australia, China and Malaysia ended lower. Japan markets will stay closed before trading resumes next Tuesday.

Trading here clocked in at 1.05 billion shares worth $1.23 billion, 20 per cent higher than the January-to-March daily average. Across the market, gainers outpaced decliners 218 to 171.

It was a good day for index shares with 25 of the 30 heading up.

Genting Singapore was STI's most traded. The casino operator closed 1.6 per cent up at 98.5 cents, with 68.2 million shares changing hands.

Food and beverage player ThaiBev continued to trend upwards on sales improvements, closing 1.8 per cent higher at 83.5 cents.

Mr Brandon Leu, vice-president of equities and financial products at UOB Kay Hian, noted that investors were mostly focused on banking and electronics sector stocks when United States-China trade talks first showed signs of improving, and have recently turned to counters such as ThaiBev.

Keppel Corp bucked the STI trend, shedding 2.3 per cent to $6.79. Market watchers noted that its shares were trading ex-dividend yesterday and it was also impacted by the decline in oil prices following a recent run-up.

Among non-STI counters, No Signboard Holdings dropped 8.33 per cent to 7.7 cents, its lowest close since listing on the Catalist board in November 2017. The Commercial Affairs Department is probing the firm over a recent share buyback.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2019, with the headline 'Local banks lift STI to end at 2019 high'. Print Edition | Subscribe