Singapore stock market likely to extend gains, say analysts

Analysts believe that Singapore's strong economic footing and the relative underperformance of its stock market against regional peers will lead to a third week of gain.
Analysts believe that Singapore's strong economic footing and the relative underperformance of its stock market against regional peers will lead to a third week of gain.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - After two weeks of solid gains in the stock market that sent the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) up by nearly 100 points or 3.1 per cent to breach through the 3,300 level, what are the odds of a third week of gain?

Pretty good, analysts reckon, citing Singapore's strong economic footing and the relative underperformance of its stock market against regional peers.

The Trade and Industry Ministry's advance estimates last Friday showed that the economy expanded 4.6 per cent - its fastest pace in more than three years - in the third quarter, buoyed by the surging manufacturing sector.

This beat economist forecasts of 3.8 per cent growth, and was also the fastest quarterly expansion since 2014.

The better-than-expected performance was lifted by a stellar showing in manufacturing, which surged 15.5 per cent year on year.

The sector makes up a fifth of the economy.

Services - which makes up two-thirds of the gross domestic product (GDP) and employs the bulk of workers - grew 2.6 per cent.

Bolstering the good news on the same day was a decision by the central bank to keep its exchange rate policy stance unchanged.

This means keeping the Singapore dollar band on a path of zero appreciation against the currencies of key trading partners.

This will be welcomed by local exporters who see a dearer Singapore dollar as being unhelpful in pricing their products competitively in the global market.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore uses the exchange rate as its main monetary policy tool to strike a balance between inflation from overseas and economic growth.

"Upbeat GDP readings and MAS policy decision sent the STI to its highest level in more than two months... STI has finished its two-month consolidation and is gaining upward momentum ahead of third-quarter earnings season," said CMC Markets Singapore analyst Margaret Yang.

She noted that the local index had underperformed regional peers over the last two months, with its performance lagging behind major indices S&P and Hang Seng.

The STI ended last week up 0.8 per cent at 3,319.11, a key level that Ms Yang has noted.

"3,300 point is a psychological and technical resistance level for the STI. Breaking out above this critical point will pave way for more upside towards the previous highs of 3,354 points."

With the results season kicking in, good corporate earnings will help to boost confidence and attract more liquidity into Singapore, she added.

DBS Group Research noted that corporate earnings growth in Singapore is recovering after two years of negative growth in 2015 and 2016.

It believes earnings growth should continue to be healthy, driven by a decent economic recovery with upside risk.

"We believe STI could attempt to hit 3,500 by end-2018, representing around 10 per cent total return inclusive of dividends."

The Keppel group of companies will report their third quarter results this week, starting with Keppel DC Reit and Keppel Infrastructure Trust on Monday and ending with Keppel Corporation on Thursday.

This week and next appear to be a popular reporting period among the Reits, with no fewer than 19 indicating that they will release their results.

Property stocks, which have enjoyed a surge of price and volume, are likely to remain in play.

The release on Oct 16 of new private home sales for September may give further fillip to the share price of developers if the sales figures are as strong as the spate of collective sales that have hit the market.

Last Friday, City Developments closed at $12.66, its highest level in nearly five years while UOL ended at a record $8.89.

Both companies snared a residential site each in the sought after East Coast area through collective sales recently.