Regional markets buoyant as investors shrug off Covid-19 fears

The Malaysian bourse rose 0.7 per cent, South Korea's Kospi added 1.1 per cent, and the Hang Seng gained 1.8 per cent.
The Malaysian bourse rose 0.7 per cent, South Korea's Kospi added 1.1 per cent, and the Hang Seng gained 1.8 per cent.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - There was a cheery mood in regional markets on Thursday (July 22) as investors focused more on the corporate earnings season than the rise in Covid-19 cases worldwide.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) rose 1.3 per cent, or 40.26 points, to finish at 3,159.26. Gainers outnumbered losers 304 to 195, with 1.34 billion shares worth $1.29 billion changing hands.

Optimism was also evident in other markets. The Malaysian bourse rose 0.7 per cent, South Korea's Kospi added 1.1 per cent, and the Hang Seng gained 1.8 per cent.

Singapore Exchange market strategist Geoff Howie said this was due to a "rotation into equities" across Asia, which began late on Wednesday and powered through Thursday.

He noted that some sectors have been clear winners, adding: "This week, global earnings reports have had a role in shaping broad economic sentiment."

Mr Howie noted that this has "edged more positive since late Wednesday, with the US dollar and US Treasuries declining, while oil has gained, with the energy, financial and technology sectors leading global equities".

Jardine Matheson Holdings was the top advancer for the day here, closing at US$62.20, up 1.1 per cent.

The trio of lenders also booked some of the biggest gains. DBS added 1.8 per cent to $30.20, UOB gained 1.1 per cent to $25.92, while OCBC rose 1.9 per cent to $12.12.

Aviation-related stocks also enjoyed a lift. Singapore Airlines advanced 3.1 per cent to $4.95 and Sats rose 2.4 per cent to $3.87.

Property company PropNex was one of the biggest decliners, closing down 4.1 per cent at $1.89.

Two glove makers were among the top losers. Riverstone fell 1.5 per cent to $1.31, and UGHealthcare slipped 2.4 per cent to 60.5 cents.

Abundance International was the most active, with 238.1 million shares changing hands over the course of the day. It closed at 4.3 cents, up 48.3 per cent.