Bulls And Bears

Singapore shares eke out 0.1% gain

Asia-Pacific stocks close mixed despite Wall Street's record run on Wednesday

Wall Street posted a record performance on Wednesday on expectations that weak economic data would lead to further interest rate cuts in the United States, but the effect was limited here.

The Straits Times Index (STI) finished 4.45 points or 0.1 per cent higher at 3,372.25, while markets in the region had mixed showings.

Australia, Japan and South Korea closed higher, but China, Hong Kong and Malaysia fell.

Trading volume here came in at 1.29 billion shares worth $936.17 million, with gainers outpacing decliners 245 to 152.

The banks ended the day with mixed results: DBS fell 0.3 per cent to $26.06, UOB dipped 0.5 per cent to $26.47 and OCBC edged up 0.1 per cent to $11.49.

Real estate investment trusts (Reits) continued to be in fashion despite "expensive" valuations and suppressed yields. Investor interest was high, thanks to the prospect that Reits could see their leverage limit of 45 per cent raised, a move that could boost their war chests for property acquisitions.

Genting Singapore was the blue-chip index's most traded, closing down 0.6 per cent at 90.5 cents on trade of 30.8 million. The casino operator's shares have fallen 3.2 per cent since a JPMorgan downgrade on Wednesday to "underweight" with a target price of 83 cents.

SIA Engineering was among the big gainers, jumping 8.4 per cent to $2.72 with four million shares changing hands. Traders were unaware as to why there was a surge of interest in the counter, although one pointed out that the company was sitting on a net cash position of $500 million.

Sembcorp Marine recovered slightly after an 8 per cent slide on Wednesday following news that the Brazilian authorities had executed a search warrant for SembMarine Brazilian subsidiary Brazilon Estaleiro Jurong Aracruz. The counter rose 0.7 per cent to $1.42.

A trader noted that while there is no indication if SembMarine's share price has bottomed out, "there are opportunities for investors to buy small amounts of the stock".

Sembcorp Industries, which has a 61 per cent stake in SembMarine, also recovered, adding 0.4 per cent to $2.42.

Trading in Asia could lack direction today, as Wall Street was closed yesterday for the Independence Day holiday, although investors will be looking to the US jobs data release, where another disappointing round of figures should strengthen the case for an interest rate cut.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2019, with the headline 'Singapore shares eke out 0.1% gain'. Print Edition | Subscribe