Bulls And Bears

Mixed day for Asia, as STI inches up

Traders await Bank of Japan's policy meeting and more Brexit drama

The continuing drama in Britain's Parliament over Brexit and the Bank of Japan's meeting on monetary policy have some bearing on markets today.

Yesterday, markets in Asia traded mixed after a positive session on Wall Street and with China reporting stronger-than-expected foreign direct investment figures in its slowing economy but weaker industrial output growth figures.

The Straits Times Index (STI) closed a tad higher at 3,197.92, up 2.33 points or 0.07 per cent.

Elsewhere in Asia, markets in Australia, South Korea and Hong Kong ended the day moderately higher.

Kospi fared best among them as the weaker won meant foreigners turned net buyers towards the end of trading, which helped to reverse losses earlier in the session.

Japan, China and Malaysia ended lower. The Shanghai Composite Index was the worst performer. CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang said the Shanghai benchmark index was down on profit-taking activities, which kicked off in the small and mid-cap space.

Trading on the Singapore bourse clocked in at 850.89 million securities worth $1.01 billion. Advancers outnumbered decliners 214 to 166.

Twenty-two of the STI's 30 constituents ended the day in the black. Among them, ThaiBev was the blue-chip index's most traded. The counter ended the session 1.5 cents or 1.9 per cent up at 82 cents, with 38.3 million shares changing hands.

Going by value of trades done, OCBC Bank's counter saw $89.04 million traded - 8.8 per cent of the bourse's value of securities traded. It added one cent or 0.1 per cent to close at $11.04.

The other local banks also gained on the day. DBS Group Holdings closed up 13 cents or 0.5 per cent at $25.10, and United Overseas Bank added 15 cents or 0.6 per cent to end at $25.05.

Crude oil prices continued to rise during the Asian session, and saw oil and gas pennies in active trading. Rex International closed 8 per cent higher at 8.1 cents, on 58.3 million shares traded, the bourse's most active counter.

In what has been a positive week for "black gold", UOB Kay Hian vice-president of equities and financial products Brandon Leu suggested that investors were "hoping that the operating environment will improve, especially for smaller oil & gas companies".

Despite the market experiencing overhang after a Moody's downgrade on outlook and a possible rating downgrade by Standard & Poor's, telco Singtel closed 1 per cent up at $2.99.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2019, with the headline 'Mixed day for Asia, as STI inches up'. Subscribe