Bulls And Bears

STI inches up as fears over Brexit ease

Break in campaigning gives markets some breathing space, with rises across Asia

Local shares were up marginally yesterday after Brexit worries eased following the suspension of campaigning in the wake of the murder of British MP Jo Cox.

This gave Wall Street some breathing room, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.53 per cent overnight, snapping a five-day losing streak, and Asia took the cue. Shanghai was up 0.43 per cent, Hong Kong rose 0.66 per cent and Tokyo added 1.07 per cent.

Singapore's Straits Times Index started with some spring in its step and closed up 11.86 points or 0.43 per cent at 2,763.42 despite the more tepid afternoon trading, but it was still down 2.11 per cent for the week.

"The death of Ms Cox was viewed by many as an incident that may turn the favour to the remain camp in the referendum. In that sense, (yesterday's) market reactions were a preview of what will happen if the British vote to stay," CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang said.

With risk appetite somewhat recovered, gold prices came off the US$1,300 level they broke on Thursday. "But the outlook remains blurry, so volatility will still abound next week. I think the interest may return to safe assets again in the days to come after this correction," Ms Yang said.

The better sentiment lifted 19 of the STI's 30 constituent stocks, with Hutchison Port Holdings Trust the top gainer, up 1.5 US cents or 3.41 per cent at 45.5 US cents on 21.5 million shares traded.

Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust put on six cents or 2.61 per cent to $2.36, ahead of its announcement of the sale of its stake in a wholly owned subsidiary.

Keppel Corp rose seven cents or 1.32 per cent to $5.36 as crude oil benchmark Brent futures went up over 1 per cent yesterday after dropping for six straight sessions.

Sembcorp Marine closed flat at $1.55.

While there is much market scepticism about a rise in oil prices in the second half, ABN Amro is more optimistic.

"The lack of investment in the energy sector, especially in non-Opec, non-US shale territory, has still to filter through to oil prices via lower supply," the bank said in its commodity update report yesterday. "Since global oil demand is expected to continue to grow robustly, especially in emerging Asia, the global oversupply will likely diminish. A further rise in oil prices will likely materialise in the fourth quarter."

Seven STI stocks ended lower. SIA Engineering dropped seven cents or 1.87 per cent to $3.67, and Golden Agri-Resources pared half a cent or 1.43 per cent to 34.5 cents.

Outside the STI, Catalist-listed door maker KLW Holdings rose 0.1 cent or 14.29 per cent to 0.8 cent. KLW shares resumed trading yesterday after the overnight announcement that chief executive and controlling shareholder Quek Chek Lan will sell his entire stake in KLW to Sunny Wealth.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2016, with the headline 'STI inches up as fears over Brexit ease'. Print Edition | Subscribe