Bulls And Bears

Regional bourses end higher on Wall St gains

Markets shrug off US official's comment on China trade deal being 'miles and miles' away

Regional markets shrugged off news that the United States and China are "miles and miles" away from reaching a trade deal, to close mostly higher yesterday on the back of gains on Wall Street.

The effect here lifted the Straits Times Index 11.52 points, or 0.36 per cent, to 3,202.25, but it still dipped 0.69 per cent over the week.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has tried to moderate expectations for the Jan 30-31 trade talks, telling CNBC: "There's been a lot of anticipatory work done, but we're miles and miles from getting a resolution and that shouldn't be too surprising."

He added that while both parties are keen to make a deal, people should not expect the meeting to solve all issues.

About 1.63 billion shares worth $1.05 billion changed hands, with gainers outpacing losers 229 to 160.

Oil-and gas-linked counters Rex International Holding and Ezion Holdings led active trading as oil prices rose for a third day on supply fears over the Venezuelan crisis.

Rex International rose 2.53 per cent to 8.1 cents on volume of 58 million, while Ezion Holdings ended 1.96 per cent ahead at 5.2 cents with 45.8 million shares traded.

Taxi giant ComfortDelGro gained 4.02 per cent to $2.33. About 12.4 million shares changed hands after news that the Land Transport Authority may regulate ride-hailing operators more closely.

Singapore's industrial production figures for last month disappointed yesterday, growing 2.7 per cent compared with 7.6 per cent in November. Economists had expected 4 per cent year-on-year growth.

The UOB Global Economics and Markets Research team noted that if fourth-quarter gross domestic product manufacturing growth retreats in tandem with industrial production, overall GDP for the last three months of 2018 will likely come in at 2 per cent, bringing full-year expansion to 3.2 per cent.

With the March 1 deadline for a US-China trade deal looming, investors may take heart that China is working to boost its economy even as the American government shutdown creates headwinds for its own economy.

China's Finance Ministry has guided for increased spending, large-scale tax cuts and reductions in social security fees, with details to be finalised in March.

"The overlapping timeline with US-China trade negotiations will probably offer some downside buffer, should investors become disappointed by the substance of the latter," the UOB team said on Thursday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2019, with the headline 'Regional bourses end higher on Wall St gains'. Subscribe