STI edges up ahead of N-Day break

Short covering helps bourse close higher in otherwise thin trading day

A bout of short covering helped Singapore shares close higher in an otherwise thin trading day ahead of the long SG50 holiday with the local market closed today and Monday.

The Straits Times Index closed 0.17 per cent or 5.27 points higher at 3,196.66, with 1.45 billion shares worth $944.4 million traded.

Short covering is where short sellers have to buy the stock in question to cover their positions.

Penny plays again dominated the most actively-traded list, with Beng Kuang Marine surging nearly 20 per cent, or 1.3 cents to 7.9 cents, with 143.4 million shares traded.

The offshore marine play, which got hit with a "trade with caution" notice on Aug 3 after its share price plunged 43.8 per cent that day, had said it was not aware of any reasons that could explain the fall.

Another penny counter, Jason Holdings, subject to a "trade with caution" on July 21 for unusual activity in its stock, shot up nearly 103 per cent or 7.4 cents to 14.6 cents, on 97.7 million shares traded yesterday.

The timber flooring firm's stock had crashed 77 per cent to 7.5 cents on Monday, but said that day it could not explain the plunge.

Meanwhile, Fraser and Neave (F&N) shares rose on news it had sold its 55 per cent stake in Myanmar Brewery to a Myanmar government-linked group for US$560 million (S$775 million), ending a legal spat that had raised fears of possible interference from the still-powerful military.

The counter jumped to a high of $2.34 yesterday before closing at $2.30, up 1.8 per cent or four cents.

Noble Group rose 2.7 per cent or 1.5 cents to 58 cents, with 49.6 million shares traded. The commodities trader said yesterday it had fully redeemed $735 million in bonds, bolstering repurchases of its own securities. The Hong Kong-based company bought back $500 million in 4.875 per cent notes due in 2015 and $235 million in 6.625 per cent bonds due in 2020, according to a statement filed with the Singapore stock exchange, where it is listed.

After a recent selldown, DBS Group Holdings gained 0.4 per cent or nine cents to $20.32, while Singapore Airlines rose 2.1 per cent or 21 cents to $10.41.

CapitaLand added 1.6 per cent or five cents to $3.22, with 19.2 million shares traded after it reported a 5.8 per cent rise in net profit for the second quarter to $464 million, buoyed mainly by fair value gains from its China properties, stronger performance of its shopping malls and a one-time gain.

Revenue rose 17.8 per cent to more than $1 billion on higher contribution from development projects in China, stronger rental revenue from shopping malls and serviced residences.

DBS Equity Research, which has a buy call on the counter, said its earnings met expectations, with continued positive signs from residential sales in China, better performance from its retail malls there and its serviced residence business.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2015, with the headline 'STI edges up ahead of N-Day break'. Print Edition | Subscribe