Bulls And Bears

STI gains 0.3% after session of thin trading

Key markets still closed for Easter; oil and gas counters up as crude prices spike

The Singapore market closed higher after a session of thin trading, buoyed by indications that Beijing will slow the pace of policy easing after signs of the economy stabilising.

The Straits Times Index (STI) added 10.12 points, or 0.3 per cent, to close at 3,357.70, with 22 of the blue-chip index's 30 components ending in the black.

Mr Brandon Leu, UOB Kay Hian's vice-president of equities and financial products, said the Singapore market "seems to be focused on recent optimistic Chinese macroeconomic data and looking to a positive US Q1 gross domestic product reading on Friday".

Elsewhere in Asia, markets were mixed. China's Shanghai Composite Index fell from a 13-month high yesterday, posting its worst session in nearly four weeks to end at 3,215.04, dropping 55.75 points or 1.7 per cent.

Financial markets in Australia and Hong Kong were closed.

On the Singapore bourse, 702.36 million securities were traded, 56 per cent of the daily average over the first three months. Total turnover came to $578.85 million, 57 per cent of the daily average in the same period.

While lower volumes were of little surprise as many key markets remained closed, CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang said investors were also on the sidelines waiting for more firms to post earnings.

Across the local market, decliners outpaced gainers 184 to 174.

ThaiBev was the STI's most traded, finishing 0.5 cent, or 0.6 per cent, up at 83 cents with 22.1 million shares changing hands.

Keppel Corporation shares caught the attention of traders in the first session since releasing its first-quarter results for fiscal 2019, adding 16 cents, or 2.4 per cent, to $6.90. Keppel is up 21 per cent this year.

Even though the conglomerate posted a 40 per cent lower net profit of $202.9 million, its offshore and marine business division reversed a net loss of $22.8 million a year ago to post a profit of $5.9 million.

Market watchers said the segment's return to profitability was the most likely factor for yesterday's advance.

During the Asian session, oil prices rose to almost six-month highs after Reuters said the United States government might eliminate sanction waivers that allowed buyers to import Iranian crude.

Observers said investors are hoping that the increased oil price might speed up the recovery of oil and gas, and offshore and marine counters, which mostly closed higher on the day.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2019, with the headline 'STI gains 0.3% after session of thin trading'. Print Edition | Subscribe