Singapore equities, regional markets rally over US jobs report, possible rate hike

SINGAPORE - Singapore equities were off to a buoyant start to the week amid a region-wide rally.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) rose 13.8 points, or 0.44 per cent, to 3,147.15. A total of 1.34 billion shares worth 1.07 billion changed hands across the bourse.

The solid showing was largely in line with other markets in the region, where gains were led by Hong Kong, up 1.11 per cent.

Shanghai advanced 0.76 per cent, Tokyo climbed 0.15 per cent, while Seoul added 0.96 per cent.

A strong set of non-farm payroll numbers in the United States last Friday bolstered market expectations of an interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve's meeting this week, sending Wall Street higher by 0.21 per cent.

"(The jobs data) signalled that the US economy is hitting full employment and that inflation is nearing its target, which might lead to accelerated rate normalisation this year," said Ms Margaret Yang, market analyst at CMC Markets Singapore. "These are well expected by the market and have almost been fully priced in."

Meanwhile, the drop in oil prices following news that the number of oil rigs in the US have continued to increase weighed down on energy-related stocks, including those in Singapore.

Keppel Corporation lost 1.6 per cent or 11 cents to S$6.75. Sembcorp Industries slid 1.2 per cent or four cents to S$3.18, while its rig-building unit Sembcorp Marine dropped 2.9 per cent or 5.5 cents to S$1.86. Offshore services company Ezra Holdings continued to feel the heat, sinking 7.7 per cent or 0.1 cent to 1.2 cents.

Elsewhere on the bourse, cash trust Saizen Real Estate Investment Trust (Reit) crashed 44.2 per cent or 2.3 cents to 2.9 cents, after it announced last Friday that a proposed reverse takeover by Sime Darby Property has fallen through.

The manager of the former Japanese residential property trust said it is not possible to complete the proposed transaction by the long-stop date of the implementation agreement, or March 31, 2017.

The day's most hotly traded counter was Disa, formerly known as Equation Summit, which ended flat at 3.1 cents on 83.2 million shares done.