Property earnings and oil prices stir trade

STI finishes up for the second day, helped by local banks; Asian markets end mostly up

SINGAPORE stocks gained more ground on their second day in positive territory, helped by investor interest in the three local banks.

The Straits Times Index (STI) added 30.09 points, or 0.89 per cent, to finish at 3,415.07 yesterday.

Down once more, to be sure, was index stock Singtel. The telco shed $0.03, or 0.89 per cent, to $3.33.

Bourse operator Singapore Exchange also sagged on the possibility of being shut out from one part of the lucrative trade in Indian derivatives. The counter slipped by $0.01, or 0.14 per cent, to $7.30.

But CapitaLand put on $0.05, or 1.44 per cent, to close at $3.52, as the market weighed a 37.8 per cent drop in fourth-quarter net profit against its $728 million purchase of the iconic Pearl Bank Apartments.

Some smaller real estate and construction players were also lifted by positive financial results amid a resurgent property sector and committed infrastructure investments.

Bukit Sembawang Estates was up by $0.10, or 1.66 per cent, to $6.13, after seeing its third-quarter earnings double against the previous year, on higher sales and profit recognition.

Catalist-listed Koh Brothers Eco Engineering added half a Singapore cent, or 6.41 per cent, to 8.3 Singapore cents, on the back of a 15 per cent year-on-year increase in full-year net profit.

Its mainboard-listed parent, Koh Brothers Group, was up by $0.01, or 3.03 per cent, to $0.34, ahead of its results announcement after the market close.

Roxy-Pacific Holdings ticked up by $0.01, or 1.8 per cent, to $0.565, before announcing its results.

But the joy was not evenly spread. Hatten Land lost 0.2 Singapore cent, or 1.15 per cent, to $0.172 on the back of a 49.4 per cent drop in second-quarter net profit.

Oil prices have also been shaky in the wake of last week's equities volatility and ahead of official American stockpile and production numbers.

The uncertainty found a casualty in Mermaid Maritime, which slipped by $0.01, or 6.14 per cent, to $0.153, on a volume of 32.52 million shares.

Marco Polo Marine, which is being bailed out by white-knight family friends, lost 0.2 Singapore cent, or 4.76 per cent, to $0.04, with 43.61 million shares traded. It went on to report a net loss of $6.6 million for the first quarter, after trading hours.

Falcon Energy closed flat at 6.7 Singapore cents, on a volume of 9.72 million shares, after sinking into the red for the three months to Dec 31, 2017.

But blue-chip Sembcorp Marine recovered a tad from a last-minute sell-off the day before, with the counter adding $0.12, or 5.06 per cent, to $2.49, on a turnover of 24.9 million shares.

The company told the bourse operator that it knew of no reason for the unusual trading activity.

Recent chatter has suggested that the share-price blow came from a dimming of the hope that parent Sembcorp Industries will privatise or divest its offshore and marine unit.

Asian markets were mostly up at the close. The Hang Seng gained 1.29 per cent, the Shanghai Composite 0.98 per cent and the Seoul Kospi 0.41 per cent. But bearish Tokyo traders, back from their National Foundation Day break, brought the Nikkei lower by 0.65 per cent.

Mr Stephen Innes, head of Asia trading at Oanda, said in a note: "Equity markets have begun the week on a somewhat positive note, picking up from Friday's rebound as bargain hunters have returned on the first sign of stability."

Still, IG Asia market strategist Pan Jingyi has warned that, when it comes to the STI, "a convincing return above the 3,400 level remains to be seen".

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