STI slightly up ahead of Trump's swearing-in

Investors mostly sidelined as they await details of US President's economic policies

Singapore shares closed marginally higher yesterday, with investors mostly sidelined as they awaited Mr Donald Trump's inauguration speech for further clues on his economic policies.

The Straits Times Index (STI) rose 0.1 per cent or 2.86 points to 3,011.08 but was down 0.46 per cent for the week.

A post-election victory rally appears to have lost its legs amid questions over how the Trump administration will implement lower taxes, more government spending and looser regulation.

Concerns over the details of Mr Trump's speech overshadowed better-than-expected economic data from China and slightly less hawkish comments from Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen. China's fourth-quarter gross domestic product grew 6.8 per cent, just beating forecasts of 6.7 per cent.

On the home front, the market was buoyed by telcos Singtel and StarHub, as well as Wilmar International and City Developments.

StarHub rose 2.3 per cent or seven cents to $3.10 on news that it and M1 will be commencing studies on the sharing of network infrastructure, such as base stations and backhaul transmission.

"We believe the likelihood of the two companies collaborating is high, given that they share common equipment vendors, namely Huawei and Nokia," said UOB KayHian, which has upgraded its call on the telco sector to overweight.

The proposed move could lead to rivals Singtel and TPG exploring the feasibility of network sharing, although "execution impediments are greater as Singtel's subsidiary Optus and TPG are competitors in the fixed-line market in Australia".

Singtel edged up 0.8 per cent or three cents to $3.81.

Meanwhile, Dasin Retail Trust, the first mainboard listing this year, closed barely above its IPO price of 80 cents at 80.5 cents on its trading debut yesterday. The business trust holds three shopping malls in China's Guangdong province.

Elsewhere, mm2 shares rose 4.1 per cent or two cents to 51 cents after its executive chairman and chief executive Melvin Ang sold 10 million vendor shares to Chinese film veteran Timothy Mou at 48.5 cents each. Mr Mou manages Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing and is co-founder of Fan Bingbing Studio.

Civmec gained two cents or 3.2 per cent to 64 cents after it said it is in preliminary talks with another Singapore firm to work on a "joint Singaporean/Australian defence" initiative in Australia. Civmec made the announcement yesterday in response to a query from the Singapore Exchange.

SGX itself rose five cents to $7.53 after posting a 5 per cent jump in second-quarter net profit on increased market activity.

SGX also queried Oceanus Group over unusual price and volume movement after its stock surged 40 per cent to 0.7 cent on 83.7 million shares done.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2017, with the headline 'STI slightly up ahead of Trump's swearing-in'. Print Edition | Subscribe