Bulls And Bears

STI hits 12-month high in lively session

Positive sentiment around banking sector, easing of some property rules cheer investors

Local shares hit a 12-month high yesterday, prompting some analysts to predict a brighter outlook for the rest of the year.

The Straits Times Index (STI) closed up 26.75 points or 0.85 per cent to 3,184.57, exceeding the previous high of 3,169.38 earlier this month. The index has gained over 10 per cent since the year started.

It was also a lively session yesterday, with 2.5 billion shares worth $1.36 billion trading across the whole market.

Remisier Desmond Leong was surprised at such a bullish run, given lingering concerns around the Trump administration.

"It's not just about the index, the volume is also coming back in. I guess it's the momentum. Last year, things were pretty dead, but once we got the ball rolling investors just keep coming in," he told The Straits Times, adding that there should be little resistance for the STI until around the 3,380 level.

Markets elsewhere were also mostly up. Hong Kong added 0.19 per cent, Tokyo rose 0.08 per cent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average in the United States put on 0.73 per cent overnight.

There were 25 gainers among the 30 STI stocks, with Hongkong Land the top performer, up 37 US cents or 5.08 per cent to US$7.65.

All three local banks headed north: DBS rose 27 cents or 1.42 per cent to $19.29, OCBC Bank closed up 10 cents or 1.04 per cent to $9.72, and United Overseas Bank added 13 cents or 0.59 per cent to $22.

Sentiment around the banking sector has been positive, with investors expecting better margins, thanks to rising interest rates.

The recent move by the Government to ease some of the rules concerning the seller's stamp duty in the property market could be a boost if it spurs market transactions and demand for loans.

Singapore Press Holdings was up for the second straight day, gaining three cents or 0.84 per cent to $3.60. Genting Singapore was hotly traded, with a turnover of 22.47 million shares. It rose by one cent or 0.99 per cent to $1.02.

Only three STI stocks fell. Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust closed down two cents or 0.79 per cent to $2.51. Jardine Matheson Holdings dropped 34 US cents or 0.51 per cent to US$66.11, and Global Logistic Properties pared one cent or 0.36 per cent to $2.77.

Meanwhile, ISR Capital was the top active with 208.1 million shares changing hands. The stock - under the spotlight following warnings and queries by the Singapore Exchange - added another 0.2 cent or 18.18 per cent to 1.3 cents.

Noble Group was also among the hot stocks, up 0.3 cent or 1.57 per cent to 19.4 cents on 181.38 million traded shares.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2017, with the headline 'STI hits 12-month high in lively session '. Print Edition | Subscribe