Investors end year on a high with most markets up globally

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Investors end year on a high with most markets up globally

These are heady times for global stock markets.

After trading for the year ended on Dec 29, 2017, Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) closed at 3,402.92 points, up a spectacular 18 per cent from the end-2016 close of 2,880.76 points.

The STI's performance nevertheless pales in comparison with that of its neighbours.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index is notably up 36 per cent, thanks to index heavyweights Tencent and Ping An Insurance more than doubling in value.

India's stock markets are up nearly 30 per cent, while Vietnam is up almost 50 per cent.

Across the world, investors are celebrating.

Even the US market had a banner year. US indices are up anywhere from 20 to 30 per cent.

"The three local banks — DBS, UOB and OCBC — drove much of the STI’s performance for the year, and are up 30 to 40 per cent each."

With the US dollar weakening against many other currencies, US-dollar-based investors did well wherever they kept their assets.

Yesterday, Singtel lost three cents to close at $3.57. It was an insipid finish for the telco relative to its counterparts on the index.

The three local banks - DBS Bank, United Overseas Bank and OCBC Bank - drove much of the STI's performance for the year, and are up some 30 per cent to 40 per cent each.

DBS, which traded at a discount to its rivals due to worries over its sizeable oil and gas exposure, recovered the most.

The top index performer for the year was Yangzijiang Shipbuilding, up more than 80 per cent.

A new stock made its appearance yesterday. Olive Tree Estates, formerly Changjiang Fertilizer Holdings, began trading on the Catalist board.

The company is now involved in industrial property.

Developer CWG International traded at 19.3 cents, up 26 per cent, after a takeover offer at 19.5 cents was made.

Top market performers for the year included United Food Holdings, Delong Holdings, HL Global Enterprises, AEM Holdings and Jiutian Chemical Group. These stocks were up around six times or more.

Before we pop the champagne, it is worth observing a minute of silence for this year's worst performers.

Down close to 80 per cent or more were counters such as ISR Capital, Noble Group, QT Vascular, China Medical International Group and Abterra.

Other notable stock price collapses were in YuuZoo, Dukang Distillers Holdings, Informatics Education and Secura Group.

Secura, which listed on the Catalist board last year at 25 cents a share, never really recovered to its initial public offering (IPO) price.

The company prints cheque books and provides security guard services.

For its IPO, the company had marketed itself as being backed by prominent businessmen such as Mr Peter Lim, Mr Wee Ee Chao and Mr Kuok Khoon Hong.

Yet its attempts to expand have not been successful. It is in the red for the year and has indicated that impairments are coming.

Senior management has quit. Mr Wee is no longer a substantial shareholder.

Secura last traded at $0.085, down 59 per cent from 20.5 cents at end-2016.

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