The Singapore market was the region's leading performer yesterday, taking its cue from the stellar gain on Wall Street overnight.
The benchmark Straits Times Index added 11.42 points or 0.43 per cent to 2,672.07, in its second straight session in the black. In all, 1.35 billion shares worth $1.15 billion were traded - a relatively active day.
Singapore's upbeat day was the exception across the region with other key Asian markets closing lower. Shanghai shed 0.82 per cent, Hong Kong pared 0.25 per cent, and Tokyo dropped 0.37 per cent, as investors took profit from previous gains.
But Singapore investors were inspired by the sentiment that pushed Dow Jones Industrial Average up by 1.4 per cent overnight. Energy stocks drove the gain, following a recovery in the crude benchmark Brent futures to more than US$34 per barrel. Remisier Desmond Leong believes the current momentum can hold up for at least a while.
"I expect profit-taking to happen and some correction may follow... But the strength of the rebound has been generally strong and I think it can go into next week," he said.
In all, 17 of the 30 STI constituents gained ground, led by Hutchison Port Holdings Trust, which put on two US cents or 4.44 per cent to 47 US cents. All three banks rose, with OCBC up 13 cents or 1.64 per cent to $8.08. United Overseas Bank gained 19 cents or 1.11 per cent to $17.33; DBS Group Holdings went up seven cents or 0.51 per cent to $13.69. The gains came after they announced better-than-expected results, even as credit quality risks linger.
Keppel Corp added six cents or 1.15 per cent to close at $5.27, despite unverified news this week that Sete Brasil may file for bankruptcy protection within days. Both Keppel and Sembcorp Marine, which dropped half a cent or 0.3 per cent to $1.635, have pencilled in provisions for potential impact from Sete Brasil, a rig client. DBS analyst Ho Pei Hwa said in a note: "It raises concerns if the rigbuilders are required to write down the value of their yard facilities in Brazil, given the lack of revenue visibility in the medium term, in particular for Sembcorp Marine, which has invested $1 billion for the new yard over the past three years."
Genting Singapore saw the biggest loss for blue chips, giving up three cents or 3.92 per cent to 73.5 cents as investors exited on a high, following the steady gain since mid-February. Golden Agri-Resources fell one cent or 2.67 per cent to 36.5 cents. Singapore Airlines closed down 18 cents or 1.55 per cent at $11.46.
In the penny segment, profit-taking sent Spackman Entertainment - which rose 58 per cent in the previous five days - down 0.4 cent or 3.23 per cent to 12 cents, with 57 million shares changing hands. Ezra Holdings was another top active, with 50 million shares traded. It rose 0.1 cent or 1.89 per cent to 5.4 cents.