Bulls And Bears

Singapore shares off to strong start for the year

STI up 0.9% as recent news like US-China deal offers investors much to cheer about

Investors were filled with new year optimism yesterday, giving 2020 a surprisingly buoyant start.

Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) shot up by as much as 1 per cent at one stage before ending the session at 3,252, up 29.17 points or 0.9 per cent.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Taiwan were higher, with the Hang Seng Index the best performer with a 1.3 per cent gain.

South Korea bucked the trend while Japan remained closed, resuming trading today.

Recent developments have given investors much to cheer about.

United States President Donald Trump has set Jan 15 as the date when Beijing and Washington will sign a "phase one" trade deal, the Chinese central bank has lowered its cash reserve ratio for banks in a bid to stimulate growth and inject liquidity, and the private survey of China's manufacturing sector remained healthy.

Moreover, the region's other manufacturing data releases implied a degree of confidence was returning, Oanda's Asia-Pacific senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley said.

Locally, advance fourth-quarter growth forecasts were mostly in line with street expectations.

Trading volume here clocked in at 1.8 billion shares worth just $883.15 million, with gainers thumping losers 326 to 141. Only one of the benchmark's 30 counters ended in the red - transport operator ComfortDelGro, which edged down 0.4 per cent to $2.37.

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding was the STI's most active, rising 3.6 per cent to $1.16 with 25.3 million shares changing hands.

Property developers were among the better performers on the day. CapitaLand added 1.1 per cent to $3.79, City Developments jumped 2.1 per cent to $11.18 and UOL Group gained 2.3 per cent to $8.51.

DBS Group Research analysts said yesterday that these developers are projected to deliver strong return on equity for the year on the back of recent mergers and acquisitions and continued asset recycling.

Among pennies, Mermaid Maritime jumped 4.4 per cent to 14.1 cents on 45.3 million shares traded. The provider of engineering services to energy firms said on Tuesday that its associates secured contract extensions worth US$199 million (S$268 million) for two of its jack-up drilling rigs.

The Trendlines Group leapt 27.1 per cent to 12.2 cents before the start-up incubator requested a trading halt in the afternoon pending an announcement.

Shares were trading at an 18-month high at the time of the halt.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2020, with the headline 'Singapore shares off to strong start for the year'. Print Edition | Subscribe