S'pore shares up as Asian markets gain

Local banks among top blue-chip winners; United Engineers, Ascendas Reit do well too

Singapore equities advanced further yesterday, along with most key markets in the region.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) rose 25.14 points, or 0.78 per cent, to 3,235.96, with 1.25 billion shares worth $1.27 billion traded across the bourse.

"The market did quite well, considering how quiet it was in the first few days of this week and the last," remisier Desmond Leong told The Straits Times. "This is coming from May, when there is generally not a lot of stimulus because a lot of the corporate results are already out.

"But there's some life in the blue chips now, such as the banks. Hopefully, the interest will spill over to (today) so we can at least end the week on a good note."

The local banks were among the day's top blue-chip winners, led by United Overseas Bank, which put on 1 per cent or 24 cents to $23.22. DBS Group Holdings rose 0.9 per cent or 18 cents to $20.65, while OCBC Bank added 0.7 per cent or seven cents to $10.56.

OCBC's gain came on the back of news that the bank and insurer Great Eastern have received proposals from several parties for their combined stakes in United Engineers and WBL Corporation.

The announcement sent United Engineers, a property, engineering and construction firm, up 4.9 per cent or 13 cents to $2.76.

Ascendas Reit (A-Reit) added 0.8 per cent or two cents to $2.64, after announcing on Wednesday it has entered into an agreement to sell 10 Woodlands Link for $19.28 million.

RHB called the move "positive" in a report, as the building has been vacant since December last year after the exit of its sole tenant. "We like A-Reit's strategy of divesting its non-core older assets and acquiring assets with longer weighted average lease expiry and lease tenures in Australia and Singapore," it said, maintaining a "buy" call on the stock with a target price of $2.73.

Upstream energy firm Loyz Energy was the most heavily traded counter, surging 10.5 per cent or 0.2 cent to 2.1 cents on 113.3 million shares done. Loyz Energy, noting the high trading volumes in the stock yesterday, said it is holding discussions with parties regarding "possible transactions... including mergers and acquisitions" but has not entered into any agreements.

Elsewhere, Tokyo gained 1.07 per cent and Hong Kong put on 0.58 per cent to reach a 23-month high, supported by property stocks.

Shanghai fell 0.47 per cent after a private survey showed China's manufacturing activity shrank last month for the first time in 11 months - a sharp contrast to official readings the day before, which showed steady manufacturing growth.

Bangkok's KGI Securities Thailand analyst Rakpong Chaisuparakul told Bloomberg: "We have mixed (Chinese) industry data, so right now, I think many investors are waiting for more readings from Europe and the United States to assess the state of the global economy."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore shares up as Asian markets gain '. Print Edition | Subscribe