Bulls And Bears

Uncertain mood leaves STI ahead by just 0.13%

Wall Street showing gives lift, but some S’pore firms’ staff cost caps hit sentiment

Local investors were in a more positive mood yesterday after Wall Street closed overnight on a firm note, but no one was throwing caution to the wind.

News that blue chips such as Singapore Airlines and United Overseas Bank were working to cap staff costs proved a sobering reminder about the economic headwinds.

The uncertain sentiment left the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) ahead by just 3.28 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 2,485.83.

Sembcorp Industries was the biggest gainer among the STI components, rising 3.36 per cent to $1.23.

It has enjoyed a steady re-rating after separating itself from its beleaguered offshore and marine arm Sembcorp Marine (Sembmarine).

Sembmarine, the day’s most heavily traded, finally seemed to have found a floor after several days of plumbing new lows. It ended 0.62 per cent higher at 16.3 cents.

Other significant STI gainers included Genting Singapore, which rose 2.99 per cent to 69 cents, and Mapletree Industrial Trust, up 2.22 per cent to $3.22.

In the small-cap space, subsea engineering and oilfield services company IEV Holdings jumped 29.41 per cent to 4.4 cents. The firm said on Monday night that it plans to sell its main operating unit for $200,000. This will leave IEV with its healthcare, postpartum care and wellness businesses acquired last year.

Elsewhere, metal gifts manufacturer Joyas International saw a 50 per cent jump in its low-priced shares to 0.3 cent. The company said last week that it plans to place out 300 million new shares at that price.

Stock markets around the region were generally firmer.

“Financial markets remain optimistic a vaccine will get done before the year is over,” Oanda analyst Edward Moya told Agence France-Presse.

Investors were hopeful although the World Health Organisation’s European chief, Dr Hans Kluge, sounded a sober note about the fight against the disease.

Hong Kong added 0.38 per cent, while China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.51 per cent.

South Korea edged up 0.65 per cent, its highest close since June 12, 2018, but Tokyo fell 0.44 per cent as investors digested the implications of a new government to be formed later this week.

Australian stocks slipped 0.1 per cent on a quiet day, with banks taking a hit.

A key highlight this week is the United States Federal Reserve policy meeting, where the Fed is widely expected to maintain its dovish stance.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2020, with the headline 'Uncertain mood leaves STI ahead by just 0.13%'. Print Edition | Subscribe