Bulls And Bears

STI chalks up modest gains ahead of Vesak Day

It sees lacklustre activity but positive China data helps lift risk sentiments a tad

Traders seemed distracted by today's public holiday, given the lacklustre activity yesterday.

Shares still managed modest gains despite the low-key mood, with the key Straits Times Index inching up 5.25 points, or 0.15 per cent, to 3,518.48, with 1.29 billion shares worth $885.5 million changing hands.

Elsewhere, regional bourses closed mixed, with benchmarks in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea notching up gains while Malaysia, Australia and China dipped.

Data out of China indicating a marked increase in industrial profits last month helped lift risk sentiments a tad.

Oil resumed its slide as the prospect of Opec and Russia easing supply curbs to counter-balance falling output from Venezuela and, possibly, Iran has exposed the commodity to downside risks, said FXTM analyst Lukman Otunuga.

Hints that the United States-North Korea summit is back on after a flip-flop by US President Donald Trump may have partly led to the firmer tone in some Asian markets, including Singapore.

"Hopes that the Singapore summit could still take place may support appetite for risk assets," said FXTM chief market strategist Hussain Sayed. "However, it has become evident that these developments tend to have only a temporary impact on equities and investors should not be distracted from the fundamental drivers."

Gains in DBS led the pack, with the stock rising 21 cents to $29.15, while OCBC Bank added two cents to $12.99. But United Overseas Bank bucked the trend, down four cents to $29.29.

Keppel Corp shed 20 cents, or 2.5 per cent, to $7.95, possibly weighed down by the renewed slump in oil prices. The firm announced yesterday that it could book a $114 million gain from the sale of a stake in a prime commercial site in the Chaoyang district of Beijing.

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding lost three cents, or 3.06 per cent, to 95 cents and was the day's third-most active with 34 million shares worth $133 million done.

The stock has lost 35 per cent in three months due to concerns over foreign exchange and steel cost pressures and slow sector recovery.

DBS Research has deemed this "overblown" and "unwarranted" for "one of the world's best managed and profitable shipyards". It has a "buy" rating on the stock on the back of the sector's recovery and believes Yangzijiang deserves to be re-rated with order wins and new-build price increases as catalysts.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2018, with the headline 'STI chalks up modest gains ahead of Vesak Day'. Print Edition | Subscribe