Bulls And Bears

STI powers ahead for fourth straight session

But regional bourses mixed amid wariness ahead of release of US inflation data

Regional markets had a mixed day, but local shares defied the odds yesterday to record their fourth straight day of gains.

The Straits Times Index (STI) finished 13.54 points, or 0.4 per cent, higher at 3,553.73, with 1.5 billion shares worth $1.3 billion traded. Gainers outpaced losers 213 to 199.

Investors here and overseas are wary ahead of the release of United States inflation data.

The concerns took the steam out of US shares overnight and set a sombre mood in some bourses.

Key regional indexes closed in varied moods, with rises in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Malaysia, while China and Australia ended the day on a lower note.

IG Markets analyst Jingyi Pan noted: "US equity indices certainly reflected some degree of cautiousness... The market is certainly looking to the CPI (consumer price index) release, which is expected to provide a clearer picture of inflation conditions."

Investors are also concerned over trade tension. US President Donald Trump has officially signed executive orders on steel and aluminium tariffs, which will take effect on March 23, with Canada and Mexico exempted.

The door was also left open for other countries to negotiate an exclusion, so this should take the heat off immediate concerns of reciprocal trade barriers and ward off fears over the deterioration of global trade, said OCBC FX Research.

In turn, risk-taking appetites could pick up for the time being, with market players awaiting further clarity on the full extent of exemptions, with Japan, South Korea and the European Union already negotiating, it added.

The three banks here led the STI's gains, with DBS up 33 cents to $29.07, while United Overseas Bank climbed 22 cents to $28.99, and OCBC added 14 cents to $13.58.

GSS Energy rose 0.2 cent, or 1.2 per cent, to 17.4 cents. The precision engineering firm announced a maiden dividend policy on Monday, which signals the management's confidence over the company's prospects, said RHB Research.

Alliance Mineral Assets slipped 1.5 cents to 36 cents after it resumed trading in the late afternoon session. Trading was halted on March 1 and subsequently suspended since March 6.

The company said the board has terminated the services of chief executive Tjandra Pramoko and his wife Simone Suen Sze Man, who was executive director, as a majority of the board had lost confidence in their ability to serve the firm.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2018, with the headline 'STI powers ahead for fourth straight session BullsAndBears'. Subscribe