Bulls And Bears

STI inches up as banks all end higher

Lenders rise ahead of profit reports; other gainers include Great Eastern and Venture

Local shares dipped in early trade yesterday but closed marginally higher in a lacklustre session.

There wasn't much to write home about but at least the Straits Times Index managed to inch up 0.27 per cent, or 9.10 points, to 3,328.95.

All three local banks ended higher ahead of their profit reports - DBS today, United Overseas Bank (UOB) tomorrow, and OCBC Bank on Monday. DBS added 19 cents to $26.94, OCBC advanced three cents to $11.60, while UOB put on 24 cents to $27.26.

"If we look at (the banks') recent share price performance, they have recovered somewhat from the early July lows and, hence, we could be seeing some buying ahead of their results," Mr Liu Jinshu, director of NRA Capital in Singapore, told Reuters.

Electronics manufacturer Venture was one of the standouts, advancing 6.84 per cent, or $1.14, to $17.82.

Great Eastern was another gainer. The insurer posted second-quarter net profit of $237.6 million, up 3 per cent from a year ago. The stock added seven cents to $27.70. It has been inching up since July 30, where it touched $27.50, a level it had not seen since late December.

Bloomberg noted that transport giant ComfortDelGro, which owns Singapore's largest taxi fleet, may see some movement in its stock after the Land Transport Authority granted a full-fledged, 10-year taxi service operator licence to HDT Singapore Taxi.

ComfortDelGro, Singapore's best-performing stock with an increase of over 19 per cent this year, added two cents to $2.37, putting it well above the $1.98 it touched in late February.

Elsewhere, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong ended lower, pulled down by property developers as the Chinese government vowed to "resolutely curb" home price increases. Weak data and an escalating trade war did not help either.

South Korea's Kospi, Japan's Nikkei and Taiwan's Taiex all rose.

All was not quiet on the trade war front as fears were rekindled after news emerged that the Trump administration plans to propose slapping a 25 per cent tariff on US$200 billion (S$272 billion) of imported Chinese goods after initially setting them at 10 per cent, a source familiar with the plan said on Tuesday.

Reuters reported, citing a source, that the goods included food products, chemicals, steel and aluminium, and consumer goods - ranging from dog food, furniture and carpets to car tires, bicycles and beauty products.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2018, with the headline 'STI inches up as banks all end higher'. Subscribe