Bulls And Bears

Singapore among region's top performers

STI closes the week up 1.77% in tandem with gains in Asian markets and Wall Street

The Singapore market yesterday ended its best week since October last year on an upbeat note, topping most equities in the region.

The Straits Times Index (STI) advanced 49.38 points, or 1.77 per cent, to 2,837 points.

For the week, it powered ahead by 187.62 points or 7.1 per cent.

Other markets in Asia were buoyant as well. Shanghai climbed 0.5 per cent, backed by banking heavyweights, as it extended gains for a fourth straight day. Hong Kong rose 1.2 per cent to its highest level since Jan 8, Tokyo edged up 0.3 per cent and Sydney rose 0.2 per cent.

In the US, Wall Street had added 0.3 per cent ahead of a monthly jobs report, led by gains in energy shares.

"Globally, markets are rolling back the extreme risk-off trading they did in January and February," Mr Norihiro Fujito, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities, told Reuters. "Part of the reason is that the Fed seems to be easing its insistence on raising rates."

At home, the local banks again led the charge, with DBS Group Holdings jumping 65 cents, or 4.4 per cent, to $15.36. OCBC Bank rose 19 cents, or 2.2 per cent, to $8.79, while United Overseas Bank added 29 cents, or 1.6 per cent, to $18.50.

Commodity trader Noble Group surged four cents, or 10.5 per cent, to 42 cents, turning around its losses for the year to mark a 5 per cent gain. It was the day's most heavily traded counter, with 219.7 million shares changing hands.

"The rising tide has helped the most shorted stocks recover from their nadirs and the buying fad doesn't appear to have ended yet," said a dealer in a report by NetResearch Asia.

Noble, which had taken a beating in the past year and saw its credit rating downgraded to junk by rating agencies, will be removed from the STI on March 21, following the quarterly review. It will be replaced by CapitaLand Commercial Trust.

OCBC Investment Research analyst Carey Wong, who maintains a "hold" call on the stock, said in a report he does not expect the change to have a significant impact on Noble. "We believe that the more pressing matter for Noble is to regain investment grade for its credit rating."

Conglomerate Keppel Corporation leapt 30 cents, or 5.2 per cent, to $6.10, while rigbuilder Sembcorp Marine rose 11 cents, or 6.6 per cent, to $1.765.

Among the laggards were transport giant ComfortDelGro Corporation, which lost two cents, or 0.7 per cent, to $3.01, and real estate player City Developments, which dropped 16 cents, or 2.1 per cent, to $7.60.

Buying momentum in the blue chips spilled over to the penny stocks, especially the offshore and marine plays. Ezra Holdings grew 0.4 cent, or 5.2 per cent, to 8.1 cents, while Technics Oil & Gas soared 4.2 cents, or 25.8 per cent, to 20.5 cents. Vallianz Holdings rose 0.1 cent, or 2.1 per cent, to 4.9 cents.

About 2.04 billion shares worth $1.75 billion were traded.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore among region's top performers'. Print Edition | Subscribe