Bulls and Bears

Punters' penny plays prompt SGX queries

S-chips' prices soar by as much as 325%; market volume shoots up to 3.2 billion shares

The frenzy among the penny plays continued yesterday, prompting increased scrutiny from the Singapore Exchange (SGX).

But market watchers are excited over the run-up in these smaller stocks, hoping that it will entice more retail investors into an otherwise quiet market.

A small swag of penny stocks leapt to giddy heights yesterday, with sports shoe firm Qingmei Group closing 2.6 cents or 325 per cent higher at 3.4 cents.

Luggage maker Dapai International surged 1.1 cent or 157.14 per cent to 1.8 cent, while software firm Edition gained one cent or 111.11 per cent to close at 1.9 cent.

Zhongxin Fruit, China Flexpack and Infinio also gained between 100 and 109 per cent.

Most of these are S-chips, or Chinese firms listed in Singapore. The segment is known for its low prices, and is often rife with speculation.

CEFC International, which remisier Chung Chun He cited as the counter that triggered the latest bout of penny fever, jumped 11.5 cents or 63.9 per cent to 29.5 cents.

Mr Chung said: "There're really no fundamentals to the penny run right now, and we may be seeing a bit of a herd mentality...

"But that's not saying it's bad news for the market. Already it's pushing the trading volume up, and I hope the penny run-up can sustain for a couple more weeks to draw in more retail investors.

"In any case, the current rally is not unreasonable after the previous beating on pennies."

Reflecting that sentiment, market volume was 3.19 billion shares, well above the one to two billion shares normally traded on the SGX.

Nonetheless, the bourse operator was wary, firing queries at Qingmei, Edition and CEFC International over abnormal price movements.

In response, CEFC said potential joint ventures that the petrochemical firm is considering may have sparked the red-hot trading, but the deal is still in preliminary discussions and investors should exercise caution when trading.

Away from the pennies, the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) closed 2.07 points or 0.06 per cent down at 3,371.41, after Monday's robust gain.

Noble Group was the top losing blue chip, paring 1.5 cent or 2.21 per cent to close at 66.5 cents after Iceberg Research surfaced with fresh criticisms of the commodity giant.

On the other end of the ledger, Global Logistic Properties was among the top gainers, up three cents or 1.18 per cent to close at $2.58. Investors were looking at GLP favourably after the company announced a US$7 billion (S$9.6 billion) fund to boost its logistics facilities in China.

In overseas markets, China was up for the fourth day, with Shanghai gaining 0.64 per cent, while Hong Kong rose 0.52 per cent. Tokyo was up 0.93 per cent, on investors' hopes of positive first-quarter earnings, to nearly a four-week high.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2015, with the headline 'Punters' penny plays prompt SGX queries'. Print Edition | Subscribe