Bulls And Bears

Optimism over US-China talks lifts market mood

SGX and most other Asian bourses see modest gains after week of gloom

A week can be a long time in share markets as local investors can attest as they look back over five days that started in gloom but ended on a slight high.

Much of the negativity that radiated through markets has mostly faded - for now. Investors can thank optimism over trade talks between China and the United States and the Federal Reserve's dovish address for the mood change.

This helped the Straits Times Index (STI) end up 15.14 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 3,198.65 and ahead 4.6 per cent for the week.

Mr Toby Wu, senior analyst at eToro, said: "With 1.1 per cent of Singapore's GDP indirectly contributed by bilateral trade between the US and China, financial and industrial sectors have shown to be the top performers this week due to the US-China trade optimism."

But he also noted that "the monster rally we've been seeing in Singapore" lost some steam yesterday.

Even so, 22 of the 30 STI constituents ended the day in the black with overall turnover at 1.56 billion shares worth $1.02 billion. Gainers beat losers 249 to 165.

The most active was GSH Corp, which fell 1.5 per cent to 32.5 cents with 104.5 million shares traded.

The high trading volume came after an off-market transaction on Thursday, where GSH executive chairman Sam Goi bought 22.5 million shares at 31 cents apiece, lifting his stake from 50.01 per cent to 51.16 per cent.

Other actives included marine firm Ezion Holdings and oil equipment supplier Rex International.

Among index-listed stocks, telco Singtel added 0.33 per cent to $3.05, while property stalwart CapitaLand closed flat at $3.27.

The talk of the bourse was home-grown Creative Technology, which surged 36.2 per cent to $5.19 on the back of the firm winning four awards at the CES in Las Vegas for its SXFI products on Thursday.

Another headline development was Oxley Holdings' proposed sale of its Stevens Road hotels for just under $1 billion. The buyer is said to be Indonesian magnate Tahir. The stock rose 6.8 per cent to 31.5 cents.

Among financials, DBS Group Holdings gained 1.4 per cent to $24.78, OCBC added 0.3 per cent to $11.65, while United Overseas Bank rose 1.1 per cent to $26.09.

Elsewhere, markets were also buoyed by the positive sentiment, with Japan, Hong Kong, mainland China, South Korea and Malaysia ending the day modestly up. Australian shares bucked the trend, falling 0.4 per cent as mining counters were hit by softer base metal prices.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2019, with the headline 'Optimism over US-China talks lifts market mood'. Print Edition | Subscribe