Business

‘Bullish glow’ continues in local bourse

It hits fresh 21/2-year high riding on strong upward momentum; UOB, DBS again lead gains

The Singapore market extended its "bullish glow" yesterday, hitting a 2½-year high as it rode on the strong upward momentum after a relatively quiet session on Wall Street.

Traders also kept watch on the rare talks between North and South Korea amid the day's thin data docket.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) climbed 12.47 points, or 0.4 per cent, to finish at 3,524.65 and notched gains in five out of six trading sessions so far this year, taking the index's year-to-date gains to an impressive 3.6 per cent.

Some other key Asian markets also had a stellar day, with Japan's Nikkei 225 hitting a 26-year high with a 0.6 per cent gain, Hong Kong's Hang Seng advancing 0.4 per cent for its 11th straight gain and China's Shanghai Composite rising 0.1 per cent.

But it was not meant to be for Malaysia's KLCI, which dipped 0.3 per cent, and South Korea's Kospi, which fell 0.1 per cent.

"Singapore equities are riding on strong upward momentum amid favourable global sentiments and upbeat economic developments," said Ms Margaret Yang Yan of CMC Markets.

"Investors are looking forward to the upcoming earnings seasons for positive surprises as the cyclical upswing is boosting all sectors from manufacturing to properties to banking and finance."

The bulls could tire, however, if the rally persists.

"As the STI edges towards the April 16, 2015, high of 3,549.85, prices may find upward movements more of a struggle," said IG Markets strategist Jingyi Pan.

US equity markets got off to a mixed start this week with two of the three major indices finishing higher overnight on Monday - the S&P 500 and Nasdaq fired on, while the Dow Jones fell by 0.1 per cent.

POSSIBLE NEW HIGHS

"Sentiments in the US remain optimistic and could drive markets to new highs," said KGI Securities in a note.

"The positive sentiments are driven by the 17-year low unemployment rate of 4.1 per cent, as well as the lowering of the corporate tax rate that will take effect this year.

"As we enter the earnings season, focus will turn to the real impact of the tax bill on corporate earnings."

Commodity prices have been holding firm too, with Schroders expecting the price recovery that began in early 2016 and paused last year to continue this year.

"Underlying supply and demand balances are increasingly positive in key energy, metals and selected agricultural markets," said Mr Mark Lacey, Schroders' portfolio manager for global energy and precious metals.

"For oil, and energy in general, the outlook has already improved markedly. Perhaps more importantly, the key risks for crude prices now appear skewed heavily to the upside."

He added that while production continues to underperform expectations in a number of countries, global consumption is "impressively strong".

On the home front, some 1.8 billion shares worth $1.2 billion were traded, with 237 counters up and 210 counters down.

Banking stocks, except OCBC Bank, once again led the gains. OCBC slipped eight cents, or 0.6 per cent, to $12.91.

DBS Bank was up six cents, or 0.2 per cent, at $26.51, while United Overseas Bank rose 55 cents, or 2 per cent, to $27.80.

CapitaLand had another good run, climbing six cents, or 1.6 per cent, to $3.78 after analysts lauded its recent move to divest 20 malls in China.

Datapulse Technologyclosed unchanged at 37.5 Singapore cents. The company said on Monday that it will call not one, but two extraordinary general meetings by Feb 26 - one meeting requisitioned by the family of Datapulse's co-founder to oust several newly appointed directors and another one to re-evaluate the company's diversification plan.

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