Singapore, regional shares rally, STI ends the week 7.4% higher

The benchmark Straits Times Index rallied 1.75 per cent, or 51.47 points to 2,998.50. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore shares rose in tandem with the rest of Asia on a continued rally in oil prices and after minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting further quashed expectations of an United States interest rate hike this year.

The benchmark Straits Times Index rallied 1.75 per cent, or 51.47 points to 2,998.50. It was up 7.4 per cent for the week.

"The dovish minutes and continued low interest rate environment has a positive effect on property stocks and is also beneficial for commodities, which have regained some ground on a weaker dollar," remisier Alvin Yong said.

Leading the rally are primarily blue-chips Singtel, the banking counters, Keppel Corp and CapitaLand. Singtel jumped 2.1 per cent or eight cents to $3.85; OCBC rose 1.3 per cent or 12 cents to $9.39; UOB climbed 1.8 per cent or 36 cents to $19.89 and DBS gained 1.6 per cent or 27 cents to $17.69.

Keppel Corp rose 3.9 per cent or 28 cents to $7.44, while CapitaLand jumped 4.3 per cent or 13 cents to $3.15.

"For the rally to be convincing and seen sustainable, the STI needs to clear the 3,000, which is a very strong resistance level. That level is difficult to break because we are going into the third-quarter corporate earnings season, which is expected to be lacklustre," Mr Yong said.

But he added that the STI could recapture the 3,000 mark if positive sentiment continues to prevail and push the Dow past 17,200 level."

Also buoying local bank stocks is a report yesterday by rating agency Standard & Poor's, which found that while a good number of banking systems in emerging markets are "clearly vulnerable" to the sharp depreciation in their respective countries' currencies against the US dollar, Asia-Pacific banks "seem to be largely spared."

The most actively traded counter was Noble Group, which surged more than 16 per cent or 6.5 cents to 47 cents, with 245 million shares traded. This after the company, which has tumbled nearly 60 per cent this year after Iceberg Research and short-seller Muddy Waters questioned its accounting policies, announced new senior hires. It also recently announced it is focusing on businesses that can deliver results immediately, rather than in 18 months or two years.

Noble on Thursday said it hired former Trafigura executive Wael Amer to expand its Middle East and African oil-trading business.

"The market views Noble's internal management restructuring as a favourable move," Mr Yong said.

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