Investors had bit more of a spring in their step yesterday, thanks to optimistic talk about coronavirus vaccines, another positive session on Wall Street and high hopes about the upcoming United States Federal Reserve policy meeting.
While hardly a day of exuberance, the Straits Times Index (STI) did manage to add 19.32 points, or 0.78 per cent, to end at 2,505.15, close to its intra-day high of 2,508.16.
Gainers outpaced losers 254 to 157 on trade of 1.48 billion shares worth $1.14 billion.
The best performing index component by a long way was Sembcorp Industries, which has been steadily edging higher over the past few days after separating itself from its offshore and marine unit.
The shares broke into a full gallop yesterday, shooting up 8.9 per cent to $1.34.
Other STI stocks had a good day as well, including the Jardine stable, as well as analyst favourites Wilmar International and ComfortDelgro, which was given a helping hand by reports that the Land Transport Authority has extended rental relief for taxi and private hire car drivers until March next year.
The transport giant advanced 2.68 per cent to $1.53, while Wilmar rose 3.12 per cent to $4.30.
At the other end of the spectrum, the three local lenders - DBS Bank, OCBC Bank and UOB - ended the day weaker. UOB was the biggest loser of all the STI component stocks, falling 0.62 per cent to $19.30.
Among the smaller-cap stocks, Shinvest Holding (formerly known as Eastgate Technology) rocketed 21.38 per cent to $3.35.
This came after the company made a further announcement related to its proposed disposal of its 6 per cent stake in Espressif Systems (Shanghai), a company listed in China with a market capitalisation of 13.4 billion yuan (S$2.7 billion). Shinvest's own market capitalisation is about $100 million.
On the coronavirus front, President Donald Trump said the US might have a vaccine ready in four weeks. Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is reportedly seeing promising results in testing.
Separately, a Chinese scientist was quoted as saying that China may have vaccines ready for public use as early as November.
Elsewhere, Hong Kong stocks dipped, following three days of gains while Seoul's Kospi ended four days of gains, with traders treading carefully ahead of the US Fed meeting.
Strong support across all sectors lifted Australian shares by 1 per cent - the most in a week - on the back of a buoyant Wall Street and better-than-expected economic numbers in the US and China.