Local market inches up on slow day in Asia

Sentiment subdued over weak US corporate results and unchanged EU interest rates

The local bourse bucked a downbeat regional trend by gaining ground, albeit by a modest margin.

Global sentiment had already cooled off overnight with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.42 per cent due partly to disappointing corporate results at home. London's FTSE 100 shed 0.43 per cent after the European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged.

Most Asian markets fell on cue, with Shanghai losing 0.86 per cent and Hong Kong edging down 0.16 per cent. Tokyo also lost 1.09 per cent after Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda ruled out using "helicopter money" - directly underwriting a Budget deficit.

And while Singapore ended with a gain, the benchmark Straits Times Index had a largely subdued session before closing up 4.87 points or 0.17 per cent at 2,945.35. Some 1.08 billion shares worth $877.8 million were traded across the bourse.

For the week, the STI still managed to add 0.68 per cent, part of the 7.7 per cent post-Brexit run-up.

Of the 30 STI component stocks, 11 rose yesterday. Global Logistic Properties led the gainers with a 3.5 cents or 1.8 per cent rise to $1.975. Singtel rose seven cents or 1.66 per cent to $4.30 and stayed around its multi-year highs of above $4.20.

The telco is well regarded by investors due to its diverse geographical exposure - it draws over 70 per cent of net profit from overseas - and active investments into digital business capabilities, including United States cyber-security service provider Trustwave, acquired in April last year.

Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust added four cents or 1.61 per cent to $2.53 after announcing higher quarterly income and distribution per unit on Thursday.

In a note yesterday, DBS analysts gave Ascendas Reit a buy call with a $2.61 target price, pointing to its acquisitions as an earnings driver.

"It acquired assets worth more than $1 billion in Singapore and Australia in financial year 2016 and is searching for more acquisitions within its core markets to compensate for a moderating growth profile. The medium-term target is to have overseas assets form around 30 per cent of revenue from 11 per cent currently," the note said.

Meanwhile, Sembcorp Marine was the top losing blue chip yesterday, off 4.5 cents or 2.95 per cent to $1.48, while Keppel Corp pared eight cents or 1.43 per cent to $5.50, sliding further after announcing a 48 per cent slump in second-quarter net profit.

Wilmar International was sold down further after its profit warning announcement earlier this week. Yesterday it closed down three cents or 0.96 per cent at $3.08, its lowest since early March.

Outside the STI, CNMC Goldmine resumed trading and was one of the top actives. It dropped 3.5 cents or 7.61 per cent to 42.5 cents on 61.8 million traded shares.

Suntec Reit was another that dropped following news of lacklustre results. It shed 4.5 cents or 2.52 per cent to $1.74. The Reit, with Suntec City and various downtown office spaces on its portfolio, is facing headwinds from office rental volatility and weak retail market.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2016, with the headline 'Local market inches up on slow day in Asia'. Print Edition | Subscribe