Bulls And Bears

STI sees minor gain amid oil woes

Benchmark Straits Times Index inches up 0.17% following volatile session

Local shares eked out marginal gains yesterday amid continued concerns surrounding the oil and gas sector and expectations over impending key economic data.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) closed up 4.79 points or 0.17 per cent at 2,875.57, following a volatile session that saw it dip as low as 2,869. Turnover was 864.8 million shares worth $1.12 billion.

The tepid day reflected mixed performances elsewhere. Shanghai was down 0.23 per cent while Hong Kong put on 0.12 per cent, as investors stayed cautious ahead of China's industrial production and retail sales data out this Friday. Tokyo shed 0.18 per cent.

Aside from signs of further economic stabilisation in China, investors were also waiting for signals from the energy sector, such as the United States weekly petroleum status report out last night, CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang said.

"The market is expecting a drop of 1.5 million barrels, but the US government forecast earlier this week also hinted at increased output going forward. The inventory situation - and hence oil prices - will remain stressed," she added. "That means the oil and gas stocks in Singapore will suffer. The segment, along with banks, have been a drag on the local market over the past 10 sessions or so since the Swiber news broke."

Swiber Holdings announced its decision to wind up on July 28. It has applied for judicial management.

Sembcorp Marine was the top losing blue chip among the 12 STI component stocks that fell yesterday. It closed down two cents or 1.52 per cent at $1.30. Keppel Corp closed flat at $5.25. The fall in crude oil benchmark Brent futures to below US$45 a barrel overnight would not have helped the mood among investors.

Outside the STI, the sell-off on Ezion Holdings and Ezra Holdings continued, with Ezion down two cents or 6.45 per cent to 29 cents while Ezra was off 0.3 cents or 6.52 per cent to 4.3 cents. The prospects of the two offshore marine support companies are now under close scrutiny after Swiber's demise.

DBS and United Overseas Bank also fell amid uneasiness over their exposure to Swiber. DBS closed down six cents or 0.40 per cent at $14.98, while United Overseas Bank dropped one cent or 0.06 per cent to $18.05. OCBC was also down, paring one cent or 0.12 per cent to $8.48.

Thirteen STI counters rose yesterday. ComfortDelGro was up eight cents or 2.79 per cent to $2.95. Hongkong Land Holdings added 17 US cents or 2.64 per cent to US$6.60. Yangzijiang Shipbuilding put on one cent or 1.22 per cent to 83 cents, with 14.6 million shares transacted. DBS analyst Ho Pei Hwa maintained a buy call for the shipbuilder earlier this week, with a $1 target price. "Yangzijiang is among the few Chinese yards that have crossed into the high-end vessel space to compete against Korean rivals, and is well positioned to benefit from the post-consolidation upturn of the shipbuilding market," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2016, with the headline 'STI sees minor gain amid oil woes'. Print Edition | Subscribe