Singapore shares ended a tad higher off their day-lows yesterday on gains in oil after data showed the biggest weekly drawdown in crude stocks in over three decades.
The Straits Times Index closed up 0.03 per cent or 0.83 point to 2,894.48, lifted by Singtel, banks and Keppel Corp. The telco gained 0.7 per cent or three cents to $4.06 while UOB rose 0.5 per cent or 10 cents to $18.78. UOB KayHian, which maintained a buy call on Singtel, said it is the "least affected by a fourth mobile provider here as overseas businesses account for about 70 per cent of its bottom line". OCBC edged up 0.3 per cent or three cents to $8.87, and Keppel gained 1.5 per cent or eight cents to $5.49.
"Oil was the main story today," said remisier Desmond Leong. It was helped by China boosting its crude oil imports by 5.7 per cent in August from July, marking the first rise in nearly two years.
Oil's sharp gains follow a surprise draw of 12.1 million barrels from United States crude stocks last week, instead of a forecast gain of 200,000 barrels. That lifted local energy counters across the board. Among the most active counters was Ezra Holdings, which surged nearly 35 per cent or 1.5 cents to 5.8 cents, with 182.1 million shares traded.
Rumours of a "favourable turn" in talks between AusGroup and its bondholders sent the Australia-based oilfield services provider surging 17 per cent or 0.7 cent to 4.8 cents, with 54.6 million shares traded. AusGroup, which has a bond repayment of $110 million due next month, is pleading with bondholders for an extension on debt repayment. Its noteholders are seeking a "small" early repayment to give their blessing to roll over this debt for another two years.
Ezion Holdings, which owns 17.83 per cent of AusGroup, jumped 11.8 per cent or three cents to 28.5 cents, while Vallianz was flat at 2.1 cents with 47.8 million shares traded.
The bounce in oil prices sent Rex International jumping 14.8 per cent or 0.8 cent to 6.2 cents and Charisma Energy surged 25 per cent or 0.2 cent to one cent.
Loyz Energy benefited as well, skyrocketing nearly 29 per cent or 0.4 cent to 1.8 cents, while Nam Cheong gained 14.9 per cent or 0.7 cent to 5.4 cents and Vard jumped 7.7 per cent or 1.1 cents to 15.4 cents.
Meanwhile, marina developer SUTL Enterprise, which gained 1.8 per cent or one cent to 57 cents, was queried by the Singapore Exchange over unusual price movements.
Addvalue Technologies, among the most actively traded stocks, was queried over unusual trading volumes. The digital satellite firm jumped 2.9 per cent or 0.1 cent to 3.6 cents, with 110.2 million shares traded. Addvalue said it has been approached by an "unrelated third party indicating, on a preliminary basis, an intention to consider taking a significant interest in the company that may result in a change of control." It said it is clarifying the party's intention.