STI gives punters something to crow about

Local stocks end on sweet note as banks and property counters rally ahead of CNY break

Local shares ended the Year of the Monkey on a positive note, partly due to Wall Street holding above the 20,000 mark overnight.

The Straits Times Index closed up 0.43 per cent or 13.07 points to 3,064.85 in half-day trading ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday and ended the week up by an impressive 1.79 per cent.

Banks and property counters helped drive the rally although the offshore and marine sector, which made recent gains on the back of higher oil prices, slipped after Keppel Corp's full-year earnings came in below expectations.

DBS jumped 0.7 per cent or 14 cents to $19.17, UOB edged up 0.1 per cent or two cents to $21, and OCBC rose 0.2 per cent or two cents to $9.45.

CapitaLand and City Developments (CDL) led the market higher on speculation that the property market may have hit bottom.

CapitaLand, South-east Asia's largest developer by market capitalisation, jumped 2.1 per cent or seven cents to $3.34, with 13.2 million shares traded, while CDL rose 1.3 per cent or 12 cents to $9.29.

The Government could signal its intention to relook property cooling measures as early as the Budget speech next month, OCBC head of research Carmen Lee told Bloomberg.

That could give a boost to the big developers like CDL, CapitaLand, UOL Group and OUE. UOL dipped 0.2 per cent or one cent to $6.50 yesterday while OUE was flat at $1.83.

It was a different story for the oil and gas, and shipping counters. Keppel shed 1.9 per cent or 12 cents to $6.27, after full-year profit came in at $784 million - the lowest since 2006.

OCBC Investment Research, which has a buy call on the conglomerate, said that although earnings came in below expectations, last year was a good year for its property division, with net profit of $620 million.

Keppel Land reported a net profit of $586 million, compared with $564 million in the previous year.

Sembcorp Industries fell 1.5 per cent or five cents to $3.19, Sembcorp Marine lost 1.3 per cent or two cents to $1.51 and Yangzijiang Shipbuilding dropped 1.22 per cent or one cent to 81 cents.

The most active counters included Equation Summit, which rebounded 8 per cent or 0.2 cent to 2.7 cents on trade of 125.3 million shares.

The increase came after it plunged more than 21 per cent last Thursday, when its subsidiary retracted an announcement on the roll-out of its digital lock technology at all of retail giant Walmart's stores in the United States.

Alliance Mineral was another active, rising 5.3 per cent or 0.6 cent to 11.9 cents, with 37.6 million shares traded, while QT Vascular fell 3.2 per cent or 0.2 cent to 6.1 cents on trade of 37.1 million shares.

While many of the Asian bourses will be closed for the holiday season, investors will be watching China's manufacturing data for signs that its economy is continuing to stabilise.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2017, with the headline 'STI gives punters something to crow about'. Print Edition | Subscribe