Markets start CNY weekend on mixed note, STI ends 65 points up

SINGAPORE - Regional markets had a mixed day on Friday ahead of the Chinese New Year break. The festive mood was somewhat dampened by concerns over the United States job market.

But local investors achieved a spirited sign-off for the holiday, as the Straits Times Index surged 64.72 points or 2.53 per cent to 2,623.21 yesterday. This helped trim STI's five-day drop to 0.22 per cent.

Remisier Alvin Yong said: "The CNY rebound was probably driven partly by shortsellers closing their position for profit. Still, this should put the smile on some investors' face, especially for those who have been bargain-hunting recently.

"But I don't think you should expect next week to be equally bullish. A short trading week is usually cautious and quiet, not to mention the anxiety over company results coming up in the next two weeks."

The Singapore market will be closed next Monday and Tuesday for the holiday. The break will be longer in China, with Shanghai and Shenzhen closed for the full week.

Shanghai pared 0.63 per cent Friday, Shenzhen dropped 1.15 per cent but Hong Kong put on 0.55 per cent. Tokyo closed down 1.32 per cent. These followed the 0.49 per cent rise to the Dow Jones Industrial Average overnight.

Globally, investors are still eyeing the Federal Reserve's decisions on further rate hikes this year, and the key indicators such as the non-farm payroll data out on Friday.

In any case, the local investors appeared to be less bothered yesterday. In all, 27 of the 30 STI constituent stocks closed higher, and Singtel was the leader of the pack.

The telco rose 22 cents or 6.32 per cent to S$3.7, with 47.7 million shares done. The vibrant session followed news that SingTel's Australian unit Optus has bought airwaves to expand its 4G network there.

Noble Group was another active counter with 61.2 million shares changing hands. It jumped 1.5 cents or 4.76 per cent to 33 cents.

Singapore Exchange also rose, up 23 cents or 3.37 per cent to S$7.05, as Singapore Press Holdings surged 11 cents or 3.06 per cent to S$3.7.

Singapore Airlines closed up 42 cents or 3.88 per cent at $11.24, up strongly a day after reporting significant earnings growth.

Global Logistic Properties also saw a big jump in earnings for the three months to Dec 31, when net profit increased 63.8 per cent year-on-year, it said on Thursday. Shares of the logistics facility developer were ahead by five cents or 3.07 per cent to close at $1.68.

Outside the STI, SBS Transit rose one cent or 0.51 per cent to S$1.99, before it announced a 17 per cent year-on-year increase in full-year net profit.