STI inches up in shortened trading session

Most Asian bourses also rise as energy stocks on Wall Street chalk up gains on oil rebound

Asian bourses mostly made further headway yesterday in shortened trading sessions.

The Straits Times Index (STI) inched up 13.97 points or 0.49 per cent to 2,877.62 before trading ended for the day at 12.30pm.

It was up 0.9 per cent for the week.

Elsewhere in the region, Hong Kong climbed for the fourth straight session, up 0.4 per cent, Sydney rose 1.3 per cent and Kuala Lumpur gained 1.2 per cent.

Shanghai, however, slid 0.7 per cent, dragged down by healthcare and property companies amid thin turnover. Tokyo, which resumed trading after a public holiday, lost 0.5 per cent.

Wall Street gained 1.1 per cent overnight as energy shares surged the most in almost three months on the back of a rebound in Brent prices from 11-year lows.

"The gains in oil and materials are certainly helping the market dig itself out of the hole," Mr Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer of Illinois-based OakBrook Investments, told Bloomberg. "Consumer spending looks good, and it bodes well for the [US] economy."

Still, IG market strategist Bernard Aw maintains the fundamentals in the oil markets remain quite bearish, with the supply glut probably going to worsen. "There is definitely room for more declines."

At home, palm oil giant Golden Agri-Resources emerged among the winners, jumping one cent or 2.9 per cent to 35 cents.

Lenders also fared well, led by OCBC Bank, which climbed eight cents or 0.9 per cent to $8.85. DBS Group Holdings added 10 cents or 0.6 per cent to $16.64, and United Overseas Bank edged up one cent or 0.05 per cent to $19.40.

Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust (Reit) rose three cents or 1.3 per cent to $2.28, after announcing that it has expressed interest to buy a logistics property in Sydney for A$76.6 million (S$78 million).

Commodity trader Noble Group sank half a cent or 1.1 per cent to 45.5 cents, erasing earlier gains. The firm sold its remaining 49 per cent in its agriculture unit to China's Cofco for at least US$750 million (S$1 billion) this week.

Outside of the STI, engineering company Interplex Holdings soared eight cents or 11.3 per cent to 79 cents, following a takeover offer from Baring Private Equity Asia.

Singapore Post tumbled five cents or 3 per cent to $1.61, its lowest since June last year, on concerns about a special corporate governance audit that the firm is set to undertake.

Catalist-listed Vashion was the day's most active counter, with 23.9 million shares changing hands. The stock ended flat at 0.1 cent.

Trading across the bourse came up to 547.4 million shares worth $377.7 million.

Most major markets, including Singapore, are closed for Christmas today, excluding Japan and Shanghai, and will reopen on Monday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 25, 2015, with the headline 'STI inches up in shortened trading session'. Print Edition | Subscribe