Bulls And Bears

Singapore stocks up amid Asian rally

STI at highest level since March 30 on oil price surge, surprise China export figures

Singapore shares joined the regional party yesterday in celebration of a surprise rebound in Chinese trade and a surge in oil prices.

The Straits Times Index (STI) leapt 75.76 points, or 2.69 per cent, to 2,890.41, its highest level since March 30.

China reported an 11.5 per cent jump in exports for March - the first rise since June last year - topping market expectations and fuelling hopes that the economy could finally be stabilising. Shanghai, as a result, was up 1.4 per cent. Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong surged 3.2 per cent, Tokyo advanced 2.8 per cent and Sydney added 1.6 per cent.

"Economic indicators are going in the right direction and there's more evidence that Chinese stimulus measures are positively impacting the economy," Mr Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at Sydney-based AMP Capital Investors, which oversees about US$122 billion (S$164 billion), told Bloomberg. "Today, we've got better export and import figures so a lot of the fundamental factors driving concerns earlier this year seem to have faded."

The positive sentiment here mirrored that in the United States, where Wall Street climbed 0.9 per cent overnight, driven by new strength in oil prices.

Prices of global benchmark Brent powered past the US$42 a barrel mark to settle around US$44 as major oil producers prepare to meet in Doha on Sunday to discuss a possible freeze in production levels.

At home, all of the STI components clocked gains, with energy-related plays out in full force.

Marine and offshore group Sembcorp Marine surged 26.5 cents or 17 per cent to $1.82 - though spurred partly by aggressive buying from foreign brokers which rekindled privatisation rumours, said NetResearch Asia in a note - while parent Sembcorp Industries jumped 20 cents or 6.9 per cent to $3.08. Keppel Corporation put on 27 cents or 4.7 per cent to $6.06.

The local banks helped lift the index as well, with DBS Group Holdings, for instance, climbing 39 cents or 2.6 per cent to $15.47.

Singtel rose 13 cents or 3.5 per cent to $3.82, while transport operator ComfortDelGro Corp jumped 10 cents or 3.6 per cent to $2.91.

The day's most heavily traded was offshore marine and subsea group Ezra Holdings, adding 0.4 cents or 3.9 per cent to 10.7 cents on a volume of 202.4 million units.

Other top active spots were dominated by oil and gas counters, including Ezion Holdings, Rex International and Technics Oil & Gas.

Osim International dropped half a cent or 0.4 per cent to $1.39. Investor lobby group Securities Investors Association (Singapore) has called on takeover regulator Securities Industry Council to probe founder Ron Sim's unintentional purchases of 17 million shares on April 5, which were above his final takeover offer price.

Total turnover across the bourse was a healthy 1.55 billion shares worth $1.39 billion.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore stocks up amid Asian rally'. Subscribe