Positive vibes from ECB, Wall Street shore up Singapore shares, STI ends week 1.2% up

SINGAPORE - Speculation of further monetary support from the European Central Bank (ECB) and a strong lead from Wall Street help Singapore shares end the week on a positive note on Friday.

The benchmark Straits Times Index jumped 1 per cent or 30.35 points to 3,068.46. It closed up 1.2 per cent for the week.

Singtel led the rally, climbing 2.3 per cent or 9 cents to $4.02; followed by the banking counters. DBS gained 1.1 per cent or 20 cents to $18, OCBC rose nearly 1 per cent or 9 cents to $9.47, and UOB was up 0.8 per cent or 17 cents to $20.40.

ECB President Mario Draghi signaled on Thursday that the central bank is prepared to undertake another large stimulus package to bolster lackluster growth in the eurozone.

"It was not a wait-and-see, but it was a work-and-assess. We are ready to act if needed, we are open to a whole menu of monetary policy instruments," Mr Draghi said.

Penny plays were again hotly traded here, with Noble Group up 4.9 per cent or 2.5 cents to 54 cents, with 109.1 million shares changing hands. Yuuzoo rose 4.3 per cent or 0.8 cents to 19.2 cents, with 77.1 million shares traded; Informatics Education was flat at 5.5 cents, with 51 million shares traded.

Shares of Ezra Holdings shed 1.6 per cent or 0.2 cents to 12.7 cents, with 54.2 million shares traded after it posted "disappointing earnings again," OCBC Investment Research analyst Low Pei Han said.

At least two analysts downgraded Sembcorp Marine to a sell after its third quarter after-tax operating profit was a "shocking miss". Shares of the yard group were among leading laggards, falling 3.2 per cent or eight cents to $2.46.

"SembMarine delivered a shocking miss with a 3Q15 operating profit after tax and minority interests (PATMI) of only $32 million due to a perfect storm of profit reversals, asset writedowns, and losses from associates," RHB said.

Describing its latest earnings as the worst quarterly showing since fourth quarter 2007, OCBC Investment Research noted that SembMarine "stopped recognising the revenue for five rigs, and reversed some profit as well."

Another laggard, Keppel Corp, lost 0.5 per cent or four cents to $7.25 after it posted lower third quarter earnings.

gleong@sph.com.sg