Bulls And Bears

STI up slightly as 2018 ends on optimistic note

Investors hopeful of thaw in US-China relations following Trump's remarks

Local investors breathed a sigh of relief yesterday after managing to close the year on a positive note, following a nerve-racking year.

They have had to face plenty of headwinds in 2018, from a trade conflict between the world's two biggest economies to rising interest rates and slowing global growth, but a sliver of a silver lining emerged yesterday.

Markets here and across the region can thank optimism emanating from renewed hopes of a thaw in United States-China relations after US President Donald Trump said "big progress" had been made in trade talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang said: "The Trump-Xi call is a positive catalyst, but the sustainability of this rally is dependent on more concrete details in trade negotiations to substantiate it."

Among the key Asian indices, the Hang Seng posted the biggest gain yesterday, rising 1.3 per cent, while Australia's ASX 200 closed 0.14 per cent lower after a fourth straight session of gains.

Chinese markets were closed, as were their Japanese and South Korean counterparts.

The Straits Times Index (STI) here closed up 15.33 points, or 0.5 per cent, at 3,068.76 but ended the year down 9.8 per cent.

Turnover on the half-day of trade was 520 million shares worth $361 million, with gainers greatly outnumbering losers 206 to 123.

Lion Gold was the most active, ending flat at 0.1 cent with 56.3 million shares changing hands. Other non-index listed actives were Ezion Holdings and Jiutian Chemical.

Eight of the 30 STI constituents ended the day in the red. Food and beverage player ThaiBev was the most active index stock, closing up 4.3 per cent at 61 cents.

Oil's recent rebound also weighed positively on banking, and offshore and marine stocks. DBS added 0.7 per cent to $23.69, while OCBC put on 1 per cent to $11.26 and UOB gained 0.7 per cent to $24.57.

Consumer electronics firm Creative Technology gained 9.5 per cent to $3.79. Last week, Creative registered four consecutive days of losses before rebounding last Friday with a 5.5 per cent gain to $3.46.

A slew of economic releases are likely to dictate market sentiment in the first week of the new year.

Singapore's fourth-quarter advanced gross domestic product figures will be released tomorrow morning. China and the US, as well as major European economies Germany, France and Britain, will release key industrial data tomorrow.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 01, 2019, with the headline 'STI up slightly as 2018 ends on optimistic note'. Print Edition | Subscribe