Singapore shares gained ground again yesterday, along with most other equities in Asia, on the back of a stimulus move by China and a rebound in oil prices.
The Straits Times Index (STI) rose 15.88 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 2,682.39, posting advances for the third straight session.
The regionwide rally was led by Shanghai with a sturdy 1.7 per cent gain, after the central bank said it has further cut its reserve requirement ratio - the level of cash that banks must lock away as reserves - to cushion the economic slowdown.
The country's manufacturing sector continued to shrink last month, according to both the official and private indexes out yesterday.
"We think the People's Bank of China easing is consistent with continued weaker-than-expected economic activity and downside risks to growth," said Mr Jian Chang, an analyst at Barclays, in a Reuters report. "It should help to support market sentiment in the near term."
Hong Kong added 1.6 per cent, while Tokyo shook off midday losses to climb 0.4 per cent and Sydney gained 0.9 per cent. Wall Street had slipped 0.7 per cent overnight in spite of the higher oil prices, which rose to levels of US$36 a barrel.
The STI's performance was helped largely by the local lenders, with DBS Group Holdings jumping 26 cents, or 1.9 per cent, to $13.84, as the counter reversed its losses from the day before.
OCBC Bank climbed three cents, or 0.4 per cent, to $8.10, while United Overseas Bank edged up four cents, or 0.2 per cent, to $17.19.
Thai Beverage Public Company also posted strong gains, leaping 3.5 cents, or 5 per cent, to 73.5 cents, following analyst reports that reiterated a "buy" call on the stock.
The company last week posted a 22 per cent increase in net profit to 26.46 billion baht (S$1 billion) for the year ended Dec 31. Oil and gas-related plays were up as traders bought in on hopes that crude prices have bottomed out. Sembcorp Marine added one cent, or 0.7 per cent, to $1.54, while parent company Sembcorp Industries jumped 12 cents, or 4.5 per cent, to $2.80. Keppel Corp put on 13 cents, or 2.5 per cent, to $5.31.
On the other hand, the day's biggest losers included embattled commodity trader Noble Group, which lost one cent, or 2.9 per cent, to 33.5 cents in heavy trade.
Telco Singtel slid two cents, or 0.5 per cent, to $3.71, while CapitaLand Mall Trust dropped two cents, or 0.9 per cent, to $2.17.
Outside of the blue chips, Osim International soared 11.5 cents, or 10.4 per cent, to $1.225, drawing a trading query from the Singapore Exchange in the afternoon.
Offshore support services provider Ezra Holdings was again the top active stock, with 118.2 million units being traded. The stock surged half a cent, or 7.8 per cent, to 6.9 cents.
Turnover across the bourse was upbeat, with 1.41 billion units worth $1.47 billion changing hands.