Bulls And Bears

STI inches up amid mixed regional results

Muted reaction to US Fed meeting minutes, but ThaiBev keeps up positive run

The minutes from last month's meeting of the United States Federal Reserve turned out to be a non-event for local investors yesterday, though the market climbed a little.

The Straits Times Index (STI) inched up 5.17 points or 0.2 per cent to 3,127.74 on trading volume of 1.42 billion shares worth $955.15 million, with gainers and losers at 190 each.

It was mixed elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific. Australia, China, Japan and Malaysia were up, while Hong Kong and South Korea finished lower. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 0.8 per cent as worries remain over the territory's economy after weeks of protests.

Investors are expected to turn to US Fed chairman Jerome Powell's Jackson Hole speech today.

Thai Beverage continued its advance, edging up 0.5 per cent to 93 cents after trading as high as 95.5 cents. It was the STI's most traded with 49.6 million shares.

The food and beverage player is the STI's best performer this year, having surged 52.5 per cent. Wilmar International, up 0.5 per cent to $3.83, is a distant second, adding 22.8 per cent in the year to date.

Thai Bev's run this week was likely lifted by the Thai Cabinet's approval on Wednesday of a 316 billion baht (S$14.2 billion) stimulus package for a slowing economy.

Nomura analysts believe the package should help offset the impact of downside risks from a weakening economy for retailers and F&B companies, primarily those exposed to small-ticket purchases such as ThaiBev.

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding continued to see heavy activity since trading resumed on Thursday last week.

Shares in the shipbuilder remain volatile due to the Chinese authorities' ongoing investigation into an individual with close ties to the firm. They closed 3.6 per cent lower at 93 cents.

The banks notched slight gains. DBS Bank closed up 0.04 per cent at $24.59, OCBC Bank eked out a 0.3 per cent gain to $10.69 and United Overseas Bank ended at $24.82, up 0.2 per cent.

Among second-liner firms, Frencken Group eased 4.1 per cent to 70 cents following KGI Securities' downgraded forecast for the provider of equipment and integrated manufacturing solutions.

KGI research head Joel Ng said the stock was no longer a bargain following its rally of almost 70 per cent this year, but noted that it is still trading at a discount to peers.

CGS-CIMB said Frencken is best placed among semiconductors to post double-digit earnings growth in the third quarter, but warned that a slowdown in the industrial automation sector could be a concern in the 2020 financial year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2019, with the headline 'STI inches up amid mixed regional results'. Print Edition | Subscribe