Bulls And Bears

STI extends gains on China data, trade news

Chinese exports beat forecasts; US could extend deadline for tariff hike

Better Chinese economic data and increased hope that the United States-China trade deadline could be postponed gave local shares another boost yesterday.

Investors took heart from news that Chinese exports outpaced forecasts to rise 9.1 per cent year on year last month, after falling last December.

Analysts stayed cautious about the data, noting that the Chinese New Year holiday affects business activity at the start of the year and makes it hard to compare trends.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that US President Donald Trump is considering a 60-day extension to the deadline for the US to impose higher tariffs on Chinese imports.

The Straits Times Index (STI) added 8.39 points, or 0.26 per cent, to 3,253.16. Turnover was 1.17 billion shares worth $1.01 billion, with gainers pipping losers 194 to 191.

Actives were led by the usually thinly traded Advance SCT, which closed flat at 0.1 cent after about 110.8 million shares changed hands. Other heavily traded counters included Rex International, Ezion Holdings and Genting Singapore.

Singtel held firm to $3.03 on volume of 19.3 million after posting a 14.2 per cent decline in third-quarter earnings before the market open.

DBS Equity Research and Citi Research maintained "buy" calls on the stock while RHB Research remained neutral.

Valuetronics, which reported a 2.6 per cent rise in third-quarter profits on Tuesday, saw its shares retreat 4.05 per cent to 71 cents on volume of 17.1 million.

RHB Research downgraded the electronics manufacturing services firm yesterday to "neutral" from "buy", citing pressures in its smart lighting segment that could impact revenue by 7 per cent to 10 per cent.

Despite widespread negativity as investors fear an imminent recession, market watchers find that too much risk is being priced in, resulting in significant undervaluation in many markets.

Mr Kelvin Tay, UBS Wealth Management's regional chief investment officer, said there is a difference between economic and financial recessions, and advised investors not to be overly pessimistic.

Mr Edward Lim, chief investment officer at independent wealth manager Covenant Capital, noted: "2018 was an overreaction."

He said valuations in equity markets around the world were below their 30-year price to earnings averages at the bottom of the bear market last December, and Japan, China and emerging markets have yet to fully recover from the slump.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2019, with the headline 'STI extends gains on China data, trade news'. Print Edition | Subscribe