Bulls And Bears

Soft leads make for muted trading session

Traders stay on sidelines, with Asian indices closing lower

Local shares were treading water yesterday with little activity here or overseas to spark investor interest.

The Straits Times Index close almost at 3,579.54, up just 6.16 points, or 0.17 per cent on trade of 1.57 billion shares worth $1.14 billion.

DBS chief economist Taimur Baig noted: "With the US pushing aggressively on trade, currency regimes, fiscal policy, immigration and deregulation, the rest of the world appears to be largely in reaction mode, for better or for worse."

Other Asian indices closed lower as Apple's doubts on iPhone sales spooked suppliers. The Hang Seng lost 0.54 per cent, the Nikkei 225 was down by 0.33 per cent and the Kospi shed 0.09 per cent.

There was some blue-chip action here, however, with Sembcorp Industries shedding two cents to $3.22. Phillip Capital has pegged sentiment on the counter as "bullish". It said in a note: "The recent price action signals a possible move back into the uptrend again after price broke and closed significantly above the $3.18 range high... Expect price to head higher next to test the $3.38 resistance area, followed by $3.60."

Keppel Corporation and the Singapore Exchange (SGX) both saw an injection of optimism after announcing quarterly results last week. KGI Securities analyst Joel Ng said yesterday that Keppel has an "attractive long-term growth story". He said: "We believe valuations are undemanding, given the recovery in the oil and gas sector and continued strength from its property developments."

Keppel - which is in talks to take on floating liquefied natural gas projects in Africa's Tortue gas field - added eight cents to $8.29.

SGX gained 14 cents to $7.70.

Electronics services provider Venture Corporation, which dived by over 12 per cent last Friday, made a weak recovery, up 28 cents or 1.11 per cent to $25.57. Venture is seen as the manufacturer for Philip Morris' IQOS electronic cigarette and its price tumbled after barriers to IQOS sales in the key Japanese market.

CGS-CIMB analyst William Tng estimates that Philip Morris could have made up at least 7 per cent of Venture's 2017 turnover. Its first-quarter results are due tomorrow.

Off the index, Ezion Holdings maintained a heavy volume of trade, topping the actives list with a turnover of 65.95 million shares. The embattled offshore services firm was down 0.3 cent to 17 cents.

NGSC, formerly Next Generation Satellite Communications, was second-most heavily traded on 28.72 million shares. It asked last Friday for more time to apply for removal from the bourse watch-list. The firm, which instigated an Ernst & Young probe over internal control failures and "significant questionable transactions and cash transactions", closed flat at 0.1 cent.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 24, 2018, with the headline 'Soft leads make for muted trading session'. Print Edition | Subscribe