Bulls And Bears

STI finishes higher after long weekend

But overall turnover just 1.09b shares worth $908.7m; region sees mixed showing

Singapore equities resumed trading on a positive note after the long weekend amid a mixed showing in the region.

The benchmark Straits Times Index put on 10.06 points, or 0.31 per cent, to 3,219.53. But overall turnover amounted to just 1.09 billion shares worth $908.7 million.

Elsewhere, Tokyo advanced 0.36 per cent while Shanghai was up 0.18 per cent, thanks to data that showed profits at China's industrial firms surged 16.7 per cent last month from a year earlier, accelerating from 14 per cent in April.

Hong Kong pared 0.12 per cent and Sydney dipped 0.1 per cent. Malaysia and Indonesia remained closed for holidays.

Traders stayed on the sidelines, keeping an eye on United States Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen's speech in London early today, likely hoping for more clues on the central bank's monetary policy.

"Her words will be scrutinised for any colour about the timing of the next rate hike against a backdrop of mounting concerns over the inflation outlook," said Societe Generale strategists in a Reuters report.

At home, UOL Group continued to rise following news last Friday that it will buy Haw Par Corporation's stake in United Industrial Corporation (UIC) via a share swap. It gained 1.2 per cent or nine cents to $7.69. UIC fell 1.5 per cent or five cents to $3.19, while Haw Par Corp added 1 per cent or 11 cents to $11.31.

OCBC Investment Research said the move "makes strategic sense" as the swap will enable UOL to acquire a significant UIC minority interest, which is otherwise not available given the lack of trading liquidity.

"More importantly, from our analysis, the transaction will be accretive for UOL, which will deepen its effective ownership stake in desirable UIC assets, such as Singapore Land Tower and Marina Square, that it already understands well," noted OCBC, upgrading its call on the stock to "buy" with a fair value estimate of $8.39.

Keppel Corporation rose 0.8 per cent or five cents to $6.28. Two of its units, Keppel Land China and Alpha Investment Partners, said on Monday they have tied up with a co-investor to acquire an office and retail mixed-used development, Soho Hongkou in Shanghai, for about US$525 million (S$728 million).

Meanwhile, embattled commodity trader Noble Group sank 4.7 per cent or 2.5 cents to 50.5 cents. This came as Fitch Ratings last Friday downgraded the firm's credit rating further into junk territory - its third such move since the middle of last month, and a rating that indicates "default is a real possibility".

This follows a 63 per cent surge in Noble's shares last week, when the firm said it remains in talks with potential investors after agreeing with lenders to extend its US$2 billion credit facility for four months.

Disa was the day's most active counter, slumping 25 per cent or 0.4 cent to 1.2 cents on 215 million shares done.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2017, with the headline 'STI finishes higher after long weekend'. Print Edition | Subscribe