Singapore shares rise day after Budget; STI up 0.7%

The Singapore Exchange Centre in Shenton Way. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Singapore stocks rose on Wednesday (Feb 19) morning, reversing their losses from the previous day when the Government announced a Budget which featured $5.6 billion to help firms, workers and households cope with the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

The latest Budget also retains a focus on the future, from economic transformation to climate change.

The benchmark Straits Times Index opened 0.1 per cent or 3.17 points higher at 3,199.8. At 10:20am, the benchmark index was trading up 22.84 points to 0.7 per cent to 3,219.47.

On Budget day on Tuesday, the STI slid for a fourth day, closing down 16.37 points or 0.5 per cent, as investors focused on Apple's warning of a revenue hit from the virus outbreak and the continuing economic fallout. This included an annoucement by Singapore Airlines that it was cancelling over 700 SIA and SilkAir flights between Singapore and countries like Japan, South Korea, Germany and the United States for the next three months due to weak demand amid the epidemic.

Among the most heavily traded by volume earlier at 9:06am on Wednesday were ESR-Reit which was flat $0.53 on 1.6 million units traded, and AEM Holdings which increased by $0.05 or 2.3 per cent to $2.22 after one million shares changed hands, as at 9.02am.

The trio of banks remained in the red. DBS fell $0.02 or 0.1 per cent to $25.25, OCBC Bank shed $0.04 or 0.4 per cent to $10.93, while UOB was down $0.07 or 0.3 per cent to $25.74, as at 9.02am on Wednesday. All three lenders had finished lower at Tuesday's close.

Singtel was unchanged at $3.17 on Wednesday morning. Singapore's largest telco had slipped 1.3 per cent to close at that level the day before. Its shares have lost 6 per cent since it reported Q3 earnings last Thursday.

Aviation-focused stocks also saw some recovery in the early trading session, after Budget 2020 introduced additional support measures - such as property tax rebates and rental waivers - for sectors including aviation that have been hit hard by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Singapore Airlines moved up $0.03 or 0.4 per cent to $8.54, while ground handler Sats rose $0.03 or 0.7 per cent to $4.51.

Meanwhile, Great Eastern gained $0.16 or 0.7 per cent to $21.98. The insurance arm of OCBC Bank, posted a fourth-quarter net profit of $287 million, more than double the $136.9 million a year ago, on Wednesday morning before the market opened.

In the US, worries over the coronavirus outbreak's impact on Apple sent Wall Street to a lower close on Tuesday. After the tech giant said on Monday that it will miss its March quarter revenue forecast while global iPhone supplies will fall, its share price fell 1.8 per cent to US$319.

Elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo stocks opened higher on Wednesday, as investors adjusted their positions amid lingering fears over Covid-19's economic impact.

With additional information from The Straits Times

Follow ST on LinkedIn and stay updated on the latest career news, insights and more.