Singapore shares lifted in regional rally

SINGAPORE - The local shares ended the volatile week with strong gains on the back of a region wide rally, as the Chinese regulators showed the willingness to sustain growth with more monetary easing.

The local benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) rose 45.98 points or 1.77 per cent on Friday to 2,649.38, ending a two-day slide triggered by oil price woes. Some 1.17 billion shares worth $906.9 million were transacted in the whole market.

Despite the gain, the STI still dropped 0.28 per cent for the week, marking the weak market conditions.

Market watchers in Asia were relieved to hear the Chinese central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan say - at the side of the G20 meeting in Shanghai - that monetary easing is still an effective policy tool.

Back in Singapore, Sembcorp Marine and Keppel Corp were among the top gaining blue chips on Friday, when 26 of the 30 STI constituent counters closed higher.

Sembcorp Marine was up 6.5 cents or 4.39 per cent to $1.545, and Keppel Corp rose 15 cents or 2.99 per cent to $5.16. But KGI Fraser Securities analyst Joel Ng cautioned that the worst may not be over for the duo.

"Within days we may hear the Sete Brasil announcing its bankruptcy as market rumours suggest, so there is still downside risk in the near term. You should wait for more clarity on the situation in Brazil.

While caution is key amid the uncertainties, there are still sound choices in the oil and gas sector. Mr Ng's preferred picks include Triyards Holdings, which has seen success in branching out to service the renewable energy sector, and China Aviation Oil, which is Asia's largest jet fuel supplier.

Triyards went up two cents or 5.26 per cent to 40 cents, and China Aviation Oil gained 6.5 cents or 10.57 per cent to 68 cents.

Noble was also among the top gaining blue chips, surging two cents or 5.97 per cent to 35.5 cents. The commodity firm announced on Thursday a US$1.67 billion loss for 2015 due to exceptional impairments, but said it is close to securing refinancing from banks while liquidity and cash position has improved further.

Only four counters closed lower on the STI. Hutchison Port Holdings Trust dropped one US cent or 2.22 per cent to 44 US cents, Thai Beverage pared one cent or 1.43 per cent to 69 cents, SIA Engineering went down one cent or 0.29 per cent to $3.45, and Sats shed one cent or 0.26 per cent to $3.9.

Outside the STI, the punting on Yuuzoo, QT Vascular and Spackman Entertainment continued. All three were among the top active plays, with Yuuzoo closing up 3.1 cents or 18.34 per cent to 20 cents on 82.7 million shares traded.

Spackman was up 1.2 cents or 9.45 per cent to 13.9 cents with 61.3 million shares changing hands, while QT Vascular went up 0.2 cents or 1.72 per cent to 11.8 cents on 65.5 million transacted shares.