Bulls And Bears

Modest gains in day lacking major push

Asian bourses mostly higher, spurred by China's measures to boost growth

There wasn't much to go on in the market yesterday but traders still managed to overturn Monday's dip and eke out modest gains.

The Straits Times Index (STI) closed 10.18 points, or 0.31 per cent, up at 3,325.60 with 22 of the 30 blue chips ending in the black.

Markets across Asia were mostly higher as increased optimism about Chinese measures to boost growth offset concerns about the upcoming United States earnings season and the imminent Brexit summit.

Remisier Ernest Lim said first-quarter results from the US will be crucial if equity markets are to build on the performance so far this year.

Trading here clocked in at 1.15 billion shares worth $1.07 billion with gainers outpacing losers 202 to 175.

Genting Singapore remained the blue-chip index's most traded, ending down 1 per cent at 97 cents with 36.7 million shares done.

The counter has fallen 10.3 per cent since last Wednesday's close.

A trader said the casino operator is seeing a change of investor profile with buyers more concerned with the longer-term outlook and less so with dividends in the near term.

Singtel continued its steady rally, rising 1.3 per cent to $3.10, a fresh high for the year. The stock has gone up 5.8 per cent this year.

DBS added 0.7 per cent to $27, OCBC Bank gained 0.3 per cent to $11.76, while United Overseas Bank closed flat at $26.50.

Oil prices continued to rise during the Asian session, hitting five-month highs.

Mr Stephen Innes, SPI Asset Management's head of trading and market strategy, noted: "With discussions around US-China trade talks stagnant, the rally in crude oil continues to be the market's primary focus as prices remain buttressed on expectations that global supplies would tighten due to escalating conflicts in Libya, Opec-led cuts and US sanctions against Iran and Venezuela."

Black gold's rally has continued to bode well for counters like Keppel Corp, which closed 1.1 per cent up at $6.65.

Mr Lim noted that the conglomerate's shares have not dropped from its price level in the first two months of the year, unlike some small oil and gas counters.

Instead, Keppel has continued to gain, "breaking out of its trading range of $6 to $6.38 and trading at five-to six-month highs", he said.

CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang noted that despite the Singapore market lacking local catalysts, "STI heavyweights Singtel, Keppel Corp and the banks have edged to their multi-week highs".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2019, with the headline 'Modest gains in day lacking major push'. Print Edition | Subscribe