Bulls And Bears

STI finishes higher as MAS eases policy

Most Asian markets also perform well as sentiment over global economy improves

The Singapore market extended gains for a fourth straight day amid growing optimism in the region over global growth.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) added 23.52 points, or 0.81 per cent, to 2,913.93 yesterday.

This came as the Monetary Authority of Singapore eased monetary policy in a surprise move, following earlier data which showed economic growth was stagnant in the first quarter.

Equities elsewhere in Asia were also buoyant, with Tokyo jumping 3.2 per cent as the yen lost ground.

Shanghai climbed 0.5 per cent as traders continued to ride on confidence from China's strong trade data on Wednesday, while Hong Kong added 0.9 per cent.

Sydney was up 1.3 per cent, Seoul advanced 1.8 per cent and Kuala Lumpur inched up 0.04 per cent.

In the United States, Wall Street rose 1.1 per cent on Wednesday, bolstered by financial stocks as investment bank JP Morgan reported stronger-than-expected earnings.

Analysts believe that traders will likely be watching out for more stimulus efforts by central banks to spur growth in the global economy.

"Central banks will continue to ease policy," Mr Nader Naeimi, Sydney-based head of dynamic markets at AMP Capital Investors, which oversees about US$120 billion (S$164 billion), told Bloomberg. "The weakness that we've seen in the US dollar and the fact that the Fed is going slowly now is allowing other countries to come out and ease. That is what we need. Pessimism around earnings growth had gone way, way too far. This rally has more to go."

Yesterday's gains were led largely by the local lenders, which chalked up firm rises. United Overseas Bank jumped 41 cents or 2.1 per cent to $19.64, OCBC Bank rose 14 cents or 1.5 per cent to $9.26, and DBS Group Holdings put on 20 cents or 1.3 per cent to $15.67.

Shipbuilder Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Holdings leapt four cents or 4.1 per cent to $1.02, after announcing on Wednesday it has won orders for six dry bulk carriers worth a total of US$510 million.

On the other hand, telco Singtel was among the laggards, sliding one cent or 0.3 per cent to $3.81 in heavy trade, while Hutchison Port Holdings Trust lost one US cent or 2 per cent to 50 US cents.

Outside of the STI, M1 fell four cents or 1.6 per cent to $2.44. The firm on Wednesday posted a 6.9 per cent drop in year-on-year net profit to $42.5 million for the three months to March 31, due to higher upfront customer-acquisition cost.

Energy-related counters continued to be in active play, with offshore marine and subsea group Ezra Holdings as the day's top active. The counter, which saw 80.4 million shares changing hands, slipped 0.1 cent or 0.9 per cent to 10.6 cents.

A total of 1.05 billion shares worth $1.3 billion were traded across the bourse.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2016, with the headline 'STI finishes higher as MAS eases policy BullsAndBears'. Print Edition | Subscribe