Bulls And Bears

Trump-Xi meeting news helps lift markets in Asia

Risk-on sentiment back on investors' expectations of Fed rate cuts

Judging from recent trading sessions, most investors seem sold into thinking that rate cuts by the US Federal Reserve are a certainty.

With news that US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are set for an "extended meeting" at the G-20 Summit, and dovishness of other central banks added to the mix, risk-on attitudes returned to the fore.

Buoyed by the sentiment, the Straits Times Index (STI) closed at 3,288.17, rising 49.44 points or 1.5 per cent. It was more of the same elsewhere in the region as Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea all clocked gains.

Of the lot, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fared the best, adding 2.6 per cent.

But markets can be myopic. The proposed Trump-Xi meeting merely removes the worry that the two leaders would not meet, but not concerns over whether a deal will be struck. Market observers note a warming of relations for the long haul may be too premature an assumption.

As one trader put it: "It was a good opportunity to take profit on Wednesday's rally until the political climate is clear. It's best to stay vigilant, especially since markets remain volatile and trade issues can always head south."

In keeping with the risk-on mood, the Singapore market had another day of vibrant turnover.

Trading volume clocked in at 1.63 billion securities, 36 per cent over the daily average for the first five months of this year. Total turnover was $1.46 billion, 40 per cent over the January-to-May daily average.

Across the market, advancers trumped decliners 293 to 140. Just a single counter - Dairy Farm International - of the STI's 30 components closed in the red.

Financials led the way, with DBS Group Holdings closing $0.63 or 2.5 per cent higher at $25.43, OCBC Bank gaining $0.23 or 2.1 per cent at $11.18 and United Overseas Bank finishing at $26.14, advancing $0.54 or 2.1 per cent.

DBS shares were given an additional boost following an upgrade of the bank's stock to "buy" by OCBC Investment Research. The research house said it was an opportune moment to enter positions on the stock, which has "Reit-like traits including quarterly dividend payout". OCBC head of research Carmen Lee maintained the fair value for DBS at $29.18.

Separately, DBS Equity Research noted that "cyclical laggards to the current rebound could attempt a catch-up in the near term". This includes counters such as Sembcorp Industries, Sembcorp Marine and Keppel Corp.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2019, with the headline 'Trump-Xi meeting news helps lift markets in Asia'. Print Edition | Subscribe