Bulls And Bears

STI rises 1.5%, buoyed by upbeat US data

Stronger US jobs data, better earnings season help. Banks also perk up as crude rises a bit

Local shares advanced yesterday ahead of the National Day holiday as regional markets grew buoyant again after major Wall Street indices closed last week at record highs.

Stronger United States jobs data last Friday and a better-than-expected earnings season had given traders more clarity on US economic growth.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) chased the US rally to rise 42.61 points or 1.51 per cent to 2,870.78, led by Singtel, which will report its first-quarter earnings on Thursday. Singtel shares edged up 13 cents or 3.19 per cent to $4.20.

Even the banks here perked up. Concerns over the lenders' exposure to offshore services, and energy firm defaults eased a little as benchmark Brent crude rose slightly, nearing US$45 (S$61) a barrel.

United Overseas Bank rose 13 cents or 0.73 per cent to $18.06, while OCBC added 18 cents or 2.17 per cent to close at $8.49.

DBS Group Holdings, beaten down seven days in a row for its outsized exposure to the troubled Swiber Holdings, enjoyed a relief rally despite kicking off the trading day with a 6 per cent fall in its second-quarter net profit from a year earlier.

DBS rose 1.42 per cent to $15.04, from Friday's low of $14.81. But the bounce "seems dull", said KGI Fraser Securities trading strategist Nicholas Teo, especially after accounting for the "risk-on" mood sweeping through the Asian markets on the positive US signals .

Noble Group was the most active stock, with 145.7 million units changing hands. It gained 0.2 cent or 1.3 per cent to close at 15.6 cents, extending a rebound that began when its new rights shares began trading. Noble is due to report its second-quarter earnings after the market closes on Thursday.

Offshore marine services provider Ezra Holdings was the second-most active counter, rising 0.3 cent or 6.98 per cent to 4.6 cents on volume of 50.3 million.

Other active oil-related plays were Vallianz, which closed unchanged at 2.3 cents, AusGroup, which climbed 0.6 cent or 14.29 per cent to 4.8 cents, and Ezion, which gained half a cent or 1.64 per cent to close at 31 cents.

Meanwhile, shares of Singapore Medical Group plunged 2.5 cents or 8.47 per cent to 27 cents with 26.7 million shares changing hands after it said it would lift its stake in Lifescan Imaging, to be funded by issuing $8.5 million worth of new shares at about 25.6 cents apiece.

China Sky Chemical Fibre called for a trading halt before the market opened, pending its response to SGX queries "on whether there are any unannounced lawsuits and whether the company is able to operate as a going concern", the nylon fibre manufacturer said.

It added: "The board of directors is in the process of ascertaining the state of affairs of the company and whether it is able to operate as a going concern." The company's shares last traded at 2.7 cents.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2016, with the headline 'STI rises 1.5%, buoyed by upbeat US data'. Print Edition | Subscribe