S'pore shares up on hopes of US-China deal

Much-needed boost comes as sense of caution prevails in regional markets

It has not been a great week for investors but the Singapore market provided some respite yesterday, thanks to growing confidence that the United States and China would be able to work out a trade deal.

It was a much-needed boost after regional markets were rudely awakened by last Sunday's tweet by US President Donald Trump that he would raise existing tariffs on US$200 billion (S$272.5 billion) worth of Chinese goods.

Like many of its regional peers, the Straits Times Index (STI) opened higher but slid shortly after tariffs on China came into force at 12.01pm Singapore time.

But the benchmark index closed at 3,273.50, up 3.8 points or 0.1 per cent. although it was down 118.79 points or 3.5 per cent for the week.

Elsewhere in the region, Australia, China, Hong Kong and South Korea closed higher while Japan and Malaysia fell.

IG market strategist Pan Jingyi noted that markets were dipping in the afternoon, suggesting that "the sense of caution continues to prevail ahead of trade talks between the US and China".

But FXTM market analyst Han Tan noted that after the tariffs were implemented yesterday, regional markets trended up.

It was "an uncharacteristic reaction" after a week-long sell-off in anticipation of new tariffs.

The unexpected price action in Asian equities could be due to optimism that the US and China can still find a resolution to this long-standing issue, he added.

In recent weeks, analysts have also said that markets were in need of a meaningful correction after rallying since the start of the year.

Trading here clocked in at 981 million shares worth $1.07 billion with losers pipping gainers 195 to 193.

Genting Singapore was the blue chip index's most traded. The casino operator fell 1.6 per cent to 93.5 cents on trade of 52 million.

Even though Genting Singapore's first-quarter net profit slipped 5 per cent due to lower gaming revenue, research houses kept their "buy" calls on the stock.

The local banks were mixed, with most attention on OCBC Bank, which posted first-quarter earnings before markets opened that beat expectations. Its shares advanced 0.7 per cent to $11.39.

DBS dipped 0.2 per cent to $26.55, while United Overseas Bank rose 0.5 per cent to $25.61.

Penny plays were active during yesterday's session, with Global Invacom Group the most traded non-STI stock with 34.6 million shares done.

Shares in the satellite communications equipment provider gained 15.7 per cent to 8.1 cents.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2019, with the headline 'S'pore shares up on hopes of US-China deal'. Print Edition | Subscribe