Bulls And Bears

STI outperforms region amid Brexit uncertainty

Gains capped in most Asian bourses; buzz over Temasek bid for bigger Keppel stake

Uncertainties plaguing the long-running Brexit saga overshadowed yesterday's trading, capping gains in most Asian bourses except Singapore.

Key indexes in South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong registered no more than half a percentage point in gains, with Australia and New Zealand closing flat.

In China, the Shanghai Composite Index ended 0.5 per cent up, while the Shenzhen Composite Index closed down 0.11 per cent.

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index (STI) outperformed regional indexes with a 0.8 per cent gain, closing up 24.99 points to 3,139.15.

About 903.65 million securities worth $923.36 million changed hands, and gainers outnumbered losers 200 to 152.

CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang credited much of the market buzz to Singapore investment firm Temasek's partial offer to acquire an additional 30.55 per cent stake in Keppel Corporation.

The offer price of $7.35 per share is a 25.8 per cent premium over Keppel's last traded price of $5.84, and Ms Yang said "it suggests Singapore blue chips are generally undervalued with their current market prices, and there is long-term value within them."

She pointed out that share prices also climbed for other "quasi state-owned companies" including Singtel and Sembcorp Marine, following the announcement.

In fact, SembMarine shares jumped so dramatically that they prompted a Singapore Exchange query. They hit a high of $1.36 during the day, up 16 cents, or 13 per cent, before pulling back slightly to close at $1.34.

KGI Securities analyst Joel Ng said in a note yesterday that a consolidation between Keppel Offshore & Marine and SembMarine would be able to proceed if Temasek holds a controlling stake in Keppel.

Singtel received interest from another quarter with the announcement that it will expand its VIA mobile payment alliance to include OCBC Bank.

Starting in the first quarter of next year, OCBC customers can go cashless in Thailand and Japan, using the OCBC Pay Anyone app.

Singtel shares rose seven cents, or 2.22 per cent, to close at $3.22, while OCBC Bank retreated seven cents, or 0.65 per cent, to $10.67.

Investors can expect more bumps this week, but the story they should focus on is China's slowdown, said HSBC co-head of Asian economics research Frederic Neumann in a note. But the slowing growth has not yet "hit a wall", he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2019, with the headline 'STI outperforms region amid Brexit uncertainty'. Print Edition | Subscribe