Bulls And Bears

STI inches up as Asian markets close mixed

After early scare due to continuing US tech rout, STI rebounds to close 12 points up

Local shares went south in early trading yesterday in response to the continuing tech rout on Wall Street, but a comeback later in the day allowed the market to end stronger.

Investors took heart from a range of factors. Noted Mr Jasper Lawler, research head at London Capital Group: "The bounce in the oil price overnight played a significant role in calming nerves. There is also some sense that perhaps emerging markets have seen the worst of the declines..."

The better mood drove the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) up 11.66 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 3,038.65. Losers trumped gainers 219 to 159 on trade of 1.25 billion shares worth $789.6 million.

Genting Singapore was the most heavily traded counter, gaining 1.6 per cent to 93.5 cents, with 29.2 million shares traded.

Analysts seem upbeat about prospects for the casino operator. RHB has issued a "buy" recommendation with a target price of $1.23 citing a "stable outlook", while DBS has a "buy" rating with a target price of $1.55.

Dairy Farm International was another share helping to prop up the STI with a gain of 1.7 per cent to US$8.90, while Thai Beverage added 1.6 per cent to 65.5 cents.

Banking stocks also ended in the black. UOB rose 1 per cent to $24.10, OCBC was up 0.7 per cent to $10.89 and DBS gained 0.4 per cent to $23.

IG market analyst Pan Jingyi noted that the slump in energy stocks would likely be a major headwind for regional markets.

Golden Agri-Resources slid 2.1 per cent to 23 cents and China Aviation Oil lost 1.6 per cent to $1.20.

DBS analysts noted that oil prices plunged 6 to 7 per cent yesterday, but said Opec is likely to agree on production cuts at a Dec 6 meeting, which should send them back up.

They added that oil and gas counters such as Sembcorp Marine and Sembcorp Industries could also see limited near-term downside, given the anticipated rebound in crude.

Despite clinching a 330 million yuan (S$65.5 million) project, waste treatment firm China Jinjiang Environment Holding fell 2.2 per cent to 44 cents.

Separately, Singapore announces third-quarter gross domestic product figures today. IG market's Ms Pan said: "Expectations are for a downward revision to 2.4 per cent in year-on-year terms. Unless we find a significant disappointment, the data is unlikely to ignite significant reactions."

Elsewhere, Asian markets closed mixed as Japan, South Korea and Australia fell, while Hong Kong and China posted gains.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 22, 2018, with the headline 'STI inches up as Asian markets close mixed'. Print Edition | Subscribe