STI edges up on back of positive data from China

But index down 2.6% for the week; SIA is top performer while Sats sits at bottom

The Straits Times Index (STI) eked out a slight gain of 0.05 per cent to finish yesterday at 2,523.55 - which still translates to a 2.6 per cent retreat overall this week.

This came on the back of positive data from China showing that the country's industrial output rose 3.9 per cent last month from April last year, expanding for the first time this year as it gradually emerges from its coronavirus lockdown.

The best performer among the index constituents was Singapore Airlines (SIA), which recovered lost ground after non-stop sell-offs all week following its profit warning last week.

The stock rose 2.4 per cent yesterday, despite analysts' bearishness on it after SIA posted its largest quarterly loss of $732 million and a full-year net loss of $212 million for the 12 months to March 31.

SIA also warned yesterday that it is unlikely for passenger capacity to return to pre-Covid-19 levels within the next six to 12 months.

At the bottom of the STI's performance table was ground handler and in-flight catering provider Sats, whose outlook has been almost as bad as SIA's following the imposition of travel curbs.

On Thursday, it was also announced that Sats is one of four counters to be dropped from the MSCI Singapore Index on May 29, the others being ComfortDelGro, Sembcorp Industries and Singapore Press Holdings.

Sats shares closed 4.4 per cent lower at $2.62 yesterday.

Advancers nearly equalled decliners at 211 to 212 for the day, with 1.78 billion shares worth $1.24 billion having changed hands.

The most heavily traded stock was watch-listed precision manufacturer Broadway Industrial, after it said it had reversed losses during its first quarter ended March 31 to post a net profit of about $4.2 million. Its shares rose 18.3 per cent to 9.7 cents at yesterday's close.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index lost 0.14 per cent while Indonesia's Jakarta Composite Index dropped 0.14 per cent.

FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index rose 0.44 per cent, Japan's Nikkei 225 Index gained 0.62 per cent, and South Korea's Kospi was up 0.12 per cent.

"There is no doubt that the optics around the trade and diplomacy backdrop have worsened in the last week, and this has had a negative influence," Mr Chris Bailey, European strategist at Raymond James in London, told Reuters.

Meanwhile, oil is heading for a third weekly gain on signs that the market is slowly rebalancing. Futures in New York traded near a six-week high yesterday of around US$28 a barrel.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2020, with the headline 'STI edges up on back of positive data from China'. Print Edition | Subscribe