Bulls And Bears

STI up thanks to Wall St, oil price rebounds

'Welcome relief rally' comes ahead of long-anticipated rise in US interest rates

Singapore shares enjoyed a slight rebound yesterday ahead of the long- anticipated rise in United States interest rates, thanks to a rebound on Wall Street and in oil prices.

The Straits Times Index (STI) closed 0.9 per cent, or 25.40 points, up at 2,840.92.

"It's a welcome relief rally after a very depressing week. The market is betting on a small rate hike," said remisier Alvin Yong.

Brent was up 1.29 per cent, at US$38.41 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate settled at US$37.35 a barrel, up 2.86 per cent.

Noble Group was the most actively traded counter, jumping 7.7 per cent, or three cents, to 42 cents, with 67.6 million shares traded.

The firm said on Tuesday that it is in talks to sell its 49 per cent stake in Noble Agri to Chinese food giant Cofco for about US$700 million (S$985 million) to US$750 million.

Noble confirmed it is "in advanced discussions with potential purchasers on both this sale and other strategic transactions, but no definitive or legally binding documents have yet been signed". Cofco acquired 51 per cent of Singapore-listed Noble's agriculture unit in April last year for US$1.5 billion.

The rebound in oil lifted energy- related plays, including Keppel Corp, which jumped 2.1 per cent, or 13 cents, to $6.42.

Ezion rose 5.3 per cent, or three cents, to 60 cents, while Ezra gained 1.1 per cent, or 0.1 cent, to 9.6 cents and Rex International climbed 1.1 per cent, or 0.1 cent, to 8.8 cents.

Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) edged up 0.4 per cent, or 0.5 cent, to $1.23, with 27 million shares traded yesterday. French shipping line CMA CGM, which is offering to take over the Singapore shipping firm for US$2.4 billion, has been buying NOL shares on the open market.

Property giant City Developments (CDL) jumped 6.1 per cent, or 44 cents, to $7.68, after news that it has structured an investment deal to unlock about $1.1 billion from its real estate assets. This is CDL's second such deal in 12 months. A similar deal involving its Sentosa Cove properties about a year ago helped it raise $1.5 billion.

DBS Group Research maintained a buy call, noting that the deal "enables the group to tap third-party capital to extract shareholder value on its balance sheet".

OCBC Investment Research likes the new finance structure but has a hold call on CDL, citing the slow domestic property market.

The research house has a neutral call on healthcare stocks, despite their comparably better gain of 25.7 per cent against the STI's decline of 16.5 per cent so far this year.

"We believe the healthcare sector would likely continue to be favoured by investors, given the early stage of growth for the sector across the region," OCBC said.

But it upgraded its call on Raffles Medical Group to a buy from hold, citing expansion and regional diversification plans. The stock dipped 0.7 per cent, or three cents, to $4.20.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2015, with the headline 'STI up thanks to Wall St, oil price rebounds'. Print Edition | Subscribe