S'pore shares inch up, tracking overnight gains on Wall Street

Friday's slight rise could not prevent the index from ending the week down 22.56 points or 0.7 per cent for the week. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Overnight gains on Wall Street fired up investors in Singapore and across the region, sending markets into positive territory on Friday.

The optimism here was of the muted variety but still managed to nudge the Straits Times Index (STI) up 0.1 per cent or 1.98 points to 3,121.60 with losers outpacing gainers 245 to 228 on trade of 2.38 billion shares worth $1.24 billion.

Friday's slight rise could not prevent the index from ending the week down 22.56 points or 0.7 per cent for the week amid weakness in local bank shares.

Singapore Exchange market strategist Geoff Howie noted that the local banks - DBS, OCBC and UOB, which make up about 40 per cent of the STI - have fallen in the past seven sessions, with their shares down 1.8 per cent on average. Mr Howie said that rate repricing and the flattening of the United States yield curve following last week's Federal Reserve meeting have weighed on global banks, even as other sectors managed gains. This trend has also been mirrored across the Asia-Pacific.

The trio managed to eke out gains on Friday: UOB rose 0.04 per cent; DBS climbed 0.1 per cent; and OCBC was up 0.4 per cent.

Sembcorp Industries was the STI's worst performer, falling 2.3 per cent to $2.11.

Keppel Corp and Sembcorp Marine were among the most active, after they announced on Thursday that they were exploring a potential merger of Sembcorp Marine and Keppel Offshore & Marine.

Keppel Corp rose 5.7 per cent to $5.40 and topped the STI performance table, while SembMarine, which also proposed a rights issue, saw its shares plunge 27.2 per cent to 13.9 cents on trade of almost a billion.

Elsewhere in Asia, key indices in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Hong Kong ended higher, tracking overnight gains on Wall Street amid optimism over a bipartisan infrastructure agreement in the US.

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