Bulls And Bears

S'pore market up despite cautious mood

STI at highest since May 2015, ahead of final GDP and inflation data due today

Local traders were cautious yesterday ahead of domestic growth and inflation numbers, but they still sent the market to levels reminiscent of the good old days.

The benchmark Straits Times Index closed up 6.64 points, or 0.19 per cent, to 3,430.02 - the highest since May 2015. Gainers closely outnumbered losers 231 to 218.

CMC Markets Singapore analyst Margaret Yang noted yesterday that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's hints of impending tax increases have not yet hit trading activity.

"Markets take more of a gradual 'phase-in' and expect the Government to conduct proper communication with the public before executing any tax hikes," she noted.

Blue-chip stalwarts did their part. Singtel rose one cent to $3.70, while Keppel Corporation, whose Keppel Land unit is shedding a Bali site that languished for years despite a planned redevelopment, added four cents to $7.53.

DBS Group Holdings rose 45 cents, or 1.85 per cent, to $24.84; OCBC Bank finished nine cents up at $12.01; while United Overseas Bank dipped two cents to $25.77.

DBS Equity Research noted: "The Singapore banks have had a fantastic rally in 2017." It added that "we believe (their) ability to keep a clean asset quality trend would be the most crucial factor to shift valuations above mean".

Among property stocks, New Wave Holdings continued to waver on the failure of Jalan Besar Plaza's collective sale tender, losing 0.1 cent, or 7.14 per cent, to 1.3 cents.

Meanwhile, UOL Group, which must consolidate its 99.683 per cent stake in Singapore Land in a mandatory unconditional cash offer, sank 10 cents, or 1.12 per cent, to $8.86.

The stock was previously boosted by UOL raising its interest in United Industrial Corporation (UIC), which owns SingLand. UIC put on six cents, or 1.81 per cent, to $3.38.

Asiasec Equities analyst Manny Cruz in Manila told Reuters: "A strong Wall Street has spilled over to Asian equities."

The Dow closed up by 0.69 per cent on Tuesday, and the Nasdaq by a strong 1.06 per cent, with gains in tech equities helping United States investors to shake off worries over tax reform prospects in Congress.

Asia was also fizzy. Seoul went up 0.39 per cent, Tokyo added 0.48 per cent and Shanghai rose 0.59 per cent. The Hang Seng jumped to its highest in a decade, rising 0.62 per cent to cross 30,000 points.

The index was helped by Chinese giant Tencent, which on Monday became the first Asian tech firm to reach a market cap of more than US$500 billion (S$676 billion).

The German political crisis, where the possibility of a coalition government has been torpedoed, could not dampen the euro's recovery.

Mr David Lafferty, chief market strategist at Natixis Investment Managers, said Chancellor Angela Merkel may be working on "less stable ground", but added that this "is not a near-term market event". "We have already seen the euro stabilise and the DAX is pushing higher."

All eyes will be on today's release of Singapore's final gross domestic product figures for the third quarter, and inflation numbers.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore market up despite cautious mood'. Print Edition | Subscribe