Bulls And Bears

STI edges up slightly in quiet trading

Subdued mood across region, given new tariffs levied by US and China

Local shares mirrored gains on Wall Street overnight to inch up yesterday in yet another day of muted trading across the region.

A dealer noted, "nobody is exactly sure where the markets are headed", given new tariffs levied by China and the United States.

Despite the uncertainty, the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) advanced 3.86 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 3,180.43 with losers outnumbering gainers 184 to 180. About 1.65 billion shares worth $926.7 million changed hands.

Keppel Corp led gains in the index, rising 2.6 per cent to $6.80, on the back of news that Keppel Land China is taking a 40 per cent stake in a Nanjing housing project for 1.41 billion yuan (S$281.3 million).

Banking counters did their bit for the STI as well. UOB rose 0.6 per cent to $26.14 and DBS added 0.5 per cent to $25.22 although OCBC ended at $11.10, down 0.2 per cent.

Energy company Rex International continued to be the most heavily traded counter by volume with 52.4 million shares traded. It gained 1.9 per cent to 11 cents.

NRA Capital research head Liu Jinshu noted that the recent rally in oil prices have resulted in "quite a few projects becoming commercially viable again", which could explain why counters in the sector are being actively traded. Similarly, KrisEnergy rose 2.9 per cent to 10.7 cents.

Separately, Valuetronics closed at 68 cents, up 5.4 per cent. On Tuesday, the counter was pummelled on two fronts by news of flash flooding at a plant in Guangdong, China, and fresh US tariffs on Chinese imports. Nonetheless, UOB Kay Hian has maintained a "buy" rating with a target price of 96 cents. It noted that impact from the flood was minimal as Valuetronics had taken steps to locate key production lines on a higher floor after a flood in June.

The brokerage also believes that the counter represents an "attractive valuation".

RHB analyst Jarick Seet noted a rebound in tech manufacturing stocks yesterday with Venture gaining 3.3 per cent to $17.09 and Hi-P adding 4.4 per cent to 94 cents. He attributed this to tech stocks being oversold as investors were worried that the trade war between the US and China could escalate.

Elsewhere, markets were mixed. Japanese stocks ended flat after investors took Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's widely expected win in the party leadership vote in their stride.

Consumer and tech shares sent Hong Kong stocks higher for a third straight session but Shanghai slipped 0.06 per cent. Korea's Kospi rose 0.65 per cent.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 21, 2018, with the headline 'STI edges up slightly in quiet trading'. Print Edition | Subscribe