Bulls And Bears

STI gains after shrugging off US concerns

Asian traders look to US Fed symposium, unfazed by Trump's threat to shut down govt

Most regional markets shrugged off worries over United States President Donald Trump's threats to end the North American Free Trade Agreement and to shut down the government if his proposed border wall is not funded.

The benchmark Straits Times Index rose 12.11 points, or 0.37 per cent, to 3,272.16. Hong Kong rose 0.43 per cent, Seoul gained 0.4 per cent but Tokyo fell 0.42 per cent. Shanghai slid 0.49 per cent.

Wall Street declined overnight after Mr Trump threatened a government shutdown to secure funding for the wall he plans to build along the US-Mexico border, a key election campaign promise.

Mr Naeem Aslam, the chief market analyst at Think Markets, told Reuters that Mr Trump "is using one of his tricks to get what he wants and does not seem to care what could be the consequence of the US shutdown on the economy".

Asian traders shrugged off the scare tactic and kept their eyes on the US Federal Reserve symposium at Jackson Hole now under way, and the potential big headlines that may bring, including possible fresh clues on US interest rate rises.

At home, ComfortDelGro shed four cents to $2.32 after having risen almost 9 per cent on Wednesday, on news that it could be forming a strategic alliance with Uber.

OCBC Investment Research analyst Eugene Chua said that while details are limited, an alliance could create opportunities on two fronts: helping ComfortDelGro expand its booking reach beyond its own booking system and potentially lifting its engineering business if Uber uses the firm for vehicle maintenance and related services.

"All considered, if this alliance happens, we deem it positive for ComfortDelGro as we believe it may prove to be a step towards more effective retention of its hirers to reduce taxi fleet idle rate (about 5 per cent as at the end of the second quarter), as well as create new revenue streams for its engineering business," he wrote.

First Ship Lease Trust (FSL Trust) gained half a cent to 9.8 cents.

It drew a trading query from the Singapore Exchange, which noted the counter had seen unusual volumes of activity recently.

The trust's management responded that aside from an analyst report from KGI Securities on Aug 14, which recommended that investors buy into the stock as it was at "bargain basement" price levels, it was not aware of any other possible reason for the trading volume.

Earlier this month, FSL Trust had posted a second-quarter net loss of US$21.8 million (S$29.6 million) due to an impairment charge of US$24.1 million on eight vessels. It reported US$5.5 million net profit a year ago.

Keppel Corp rose six cents to $6.36 after it disclosed that its offshore and marine unit had clinched a contract worth over US$400 million from Pasha Hawaii to build two liquefied natural gas-fuelled containerships.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2017, with the headline 'STI gains after shrugging off US concerns'. Print Edition | Subscribe