STI rises to highest level in over 10 years

The modest increase left the Straits Times Index (STI) at 3,550.21 - its highest level since it finished at 3,570.5 on Dec 11, 2007.
The modest increase left the Straits Times Index (STI) at 3,550.21 - its highest level since it finished at 3,570.5 on Dec 11, 2007.PHOTO: ST FILE

Analysts credit performance to global bull run, with oil price rebound and property boom fuelling rally

The bull run that has been turbo-charging shares in recent months put in a stunning performance yesterday by driving the market to its highest level in more than 10 years.

The actual rise of just 13.8 points was small change, but it made for a memorable day and left investors reaching for the bubbly.

The modest increase left the Straits Times Index (STI) at 3,550.21 - its highest level since it finished at 3,570.5 on Dec 11, 2007.

It has been a long time between drinks: Back then, Mr George W. Bush was US president; Lehman Brothers was a thriving Wall Street blue chip and the first iPad was still three years down the track.

Local investors could be forgiven for thinking the market would never attain the heights it did before the global financial crisis.

It has been a long haul to get back to this level, and much of the credit goes to a remarkable bull run that has lifted markets across the world.

The impetus here has also come from a rebound in oil prices that has benefited not just offshore and marine firms, but banks as well, said CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang.

Real estate has also seen a boom. Last year's spate of collective sales fuelled comparisons with the en-bloc fever of 2005 to 2007, and the excitement has carried over into the new year.

Analysts had been holding their breath over the STI's recent rise, with 3,549.85 the magic number to beat. That was when the index crested in 2015 in the wake of the global financial crisis.

The all-time high of 3,831.19 points was hit on Oct 11, 2007.

Ms Carmen Lee, head of research at OCBC Investment Research, was cautious on where the STI might go next. Ms Lee is sticking with her tip from the first week of the year when she said the STI could reach 3,700 this year, "but anything beyond 20 per cent will bring valuations to a stretch, unless earnings come in strongly".

Ms Yang has faith that "fundamental elements are very supportive for the stock market rally", adding that "3,800 looks quite far, but actually (the) market needs to run up another 7 per cent to reach this level".

She said: "If corporate earnings continue to improve and crude oil price remains at elevated levels, I wouldn't be surprised to see this happen in the months to come."

 

Singapore traders were not the only ones popping the champagne yesterday.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong closed at an all-time record of 31,904.75, with experts saying there is a lot more to come.

Ms Yang said the Hang Seng's rise has helped to keep investors here on their toes, noting: "Favourable overseas sentiment is injecting confidence into the local market."

She believes that Singapore equities are lagging behind regional peers, calling the market here "still one of the lowest-valued in Asia right now".

SEE BUSINESS: Triple booster powers STI to 10-year high

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2018, with the headline 'STI rises to highest level in over 10 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe