Bulls And Bears

Wall Street rally gives S'pore market a boost

Positives on Brexit front also drive most Asian bourses, but Chinese markets fall

Singapore equities raced ahead yesterday, boosted by a rally on Wall Street that was supported by strong third-quarter earnings from major United States banks on Tuesday.

The Straits Times Index (STI) opened the day 0.4 per cent higher and built on early gains to finish at 3,134.71, advancing 18.54 points or 0.59 per cent.

Among other Asia-Pacific indices, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea all posted gains.

Of note was the Hang Seng Index. It slipped into negative territory when Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam temporarily abandoned her policy speech to the Legislative Council after being heckled by opposition lawmakers. But the benchmark rallied to close 160.35 points up at 26,664.28 after Mrs Lam pledged to relax mortgage rules to help first-time home buyers.

The move is not likely to put an end to protests but may pacify some demonstrators, traders noted.

In contrast, Chinese markets fell after Beijing said it could retaliate if the US Congress passes a Bill offering support to pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

Even though strong earnings from US lenders as well as positives on the Brexit front may have made the case for a generally pro-risk day, it would not hurt to look at the glass "half empty" either.

Referring to the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday cutting the global growth forecast for this year to 3 per cent - the lowest since the global financial crisis, Mr Vishnu Varathan, Mizuho Bank's head of economics and strategy for the Asia and Oceania treasury, said "the outlook is one of synchronised gloom".

In Singapore, trading volume stood at 1.33 billion securities, 14 per cent over the daily average in the first nine months of the year. Meanwhile, total turnover was $1.19 billion, 12 per cent over the January-to-September daily average.

Across the market, gainers trumped decliners 223 to 174. Just four of the blue-chip index's 30 counters ended in the red.

The above-average activity could be attributed to a flurry of activity among firms in the second line.

Rex International advanced 15.2 per cent to 9.1 cents on 165.6 million shares traded, the most in the Singapore bourse after the upstream player made an oil and gas discovery from the drilling of exploration and appraisal wells in the Norwegian Sea.

Among STI counters, Golden Agri-Resources was the most active counter with 24.1 million shares traded, dipping 2.3 per cent to close at 21 cents.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2019, with the headline 'Wall Street rally gives S'pore market a boost'. Print Edition | Subscribe