Bulls And Bears

Small caps propel STI to two-year high

But mood cautious across Asian bourses after recent plunge in Chinese markets

Orchard Road was awash with shoppers yesterday, but Black Friday proved another quiet day on the market although the bourse did close at a fresh two-year high.

Still, investors must have spotted some bargains, with the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) up 18.98 points, or 0.55 per cent, to 3,442.15 and up 1.8 per cent for the week. Gainers trumped losers 243 to 172.

The movement was largely on the back of penny stock activity, with the nearly 2.57 billion shares that changed hands worth just $911.9 million.

One reason for caution across Asian bourses could be the recent plunge in Chinese markets, which was sparked by fears that regulators could clamp down on speculation and high valuations in the equity and bond markets.

While there were few fireworks here, the STI closed at its highest level since May 2015.

Cosco Shipping International, which has set a Jan 5 deadline for its bid to take Cogent Holdings private, added 6.5 cents, or 13.83 per cent, to 53.5 cents on a volume of 62.6 million shares.

Early childhood education provi-der MindChamps PreSchool, which debuted yesterday at 83 cents, ended 10.84 per cent higher at 92 cents on trade of 21.7 million shares.

Thai Beverage, whose 38.5 per cent jump in full-year net profit met with analysts' measured approval, closed up three cents, or 3.19 per cent, to 97 cents, with almost 29.7 million shares changing hands.

Meanwhile, engineering and construction services firm Civmec said it has clinched a role in a multibillion-dollar shipbuilding project for the Australian Navy. It added four cents or 7.27 per cent to 59 cents.

Malaysia-based Top Glove Corp, which makes rubber gloves, closed up one cent to $2.21, after announcing it is in exclusive talks to buy the medical glove unit of Adventa Capital in a cash-and-shares deal.

Another hot stock for the day, albeit in the wrong direction, was aluminium alloy company Midas Holdings. Over 39.4 million shares were moved, leaving Midas down 0.6 cent, or 3.9 per cent, to 14.8 cents. Midas was queried by the Singapore Exchange over heavy selling in its stock. It said it was not aware of any information that could explain the unusual trading activity.

The STI's performance closed a good week in which Singapore's gross domestic product numbers surpassed estimates on Thursday. CMC Markets Singapore analyst Margaret Yang noted: "This, alongside higher economic expansion observed in other South-east Asian countries, suggests that global demand is picking up and the cyclical recovery momentum remains strong."

Headline inflation and factory output also came in within expectations. DBS Bank economists noted: "It has been another week of strong data, with encouraging readings from Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines in Asia, as well as the European Union."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2017, with the headline 'Small caps propel STI to two-year high'. Print Edition | Subscribe