Business

Q2 trading gets off to a bright start

Positive Chinese PMI figures for last month invigorate markets in Asia; equities enjoy best first quarter showing in seven years

There was much to cheer for on the first day of trading in the second quarter.

For one, both official and private Chinese purchasing managers' index figures for last month not only beat expectations, they also turned around three months' of contraction.

CMC Markets' Ms Margaret Yang told The Business Times that the data releases "left markets in Asia invigorated" after the region's equities had their best first quarter showing in seven years.

Moreover, US-China trade talks and Friday's session on Wall Street sweetened the positive sentiment for investors here as the Straits Times Index (STI) gained 37.63 points or 1.17 per cent to close at 3,250.51.

Elsewhere in Asia, markets in Australia, Japan, South Korea, China and Hong Kong ended higher.

Of the lot, the Shanghai Composite Index closed at a 10-month high of 3,170.36, up 79.60 or 2.6 per cent.

However, the Malaysian market went against the grain to drop 0.9 per cent.

Despite market catalysts, trading volumes continued to be subdued, clocking in at 898.08 million securities, about 65 per cent of the daily average over the first two months of this year.

IG market strategist Pan Jingyi noted: "As a whole, the market is still mulling the uncertain geopolitical and growth outlook, which has not aided investors into having greater market conviction."

Meanwhile, total turnover came to $1 billion, just under the January-to-February daily average. Advancers outnumbered decliners 278 to 146.

Twenty-seven of the STI's 30 constituents ended the day in the black as market watchers noted that both the benchmark index and the Singapore market - as a whole - registered broad gains.

Genting Singapore was the bourse's most active counter with 39.2 million shares traded. Shares in the casino operator ended the session one cent or 1 per cent higher at $1.05.

Venture Corporation was the blue-chip index's big gainer on the day. The electronics manufacturing services firm ended $0.56 or 3.1 per cent up at $18.50 with 1.24 million shares changing hands.

Going by value of trades done, DBS Group Holdings saw $99.75 million traded - about 10 per cent of the bourse's value of securities traded - across 3.91 million shares. The bank's shares added $0.36 or 1.4 per cent to end at $25.59.

OCBC Bank closed $0.16 or 1.4 per cent higher at $11.21, while United Overseas Bank added $0.23 or 0.9 per cent to close at $25.42.

Rising oil prices due to the tailwinds of a Chinese economic recovery and a potential Iranian supply disruption meant that counters related to black gold also courted the attention of investors.

Among them, Rex International saw the most activity, adding 0.5 cent or 6.8 per cent to close at 7.9 cents on 36.6 million shares traded.

Tritech Group continued to be actively traded after receiving a query from the bourse operator on Friday. It skidded 0.4 cent or 8.7 per cent to end at 4.2 cents after almost gaining 60 per cent the previous session.

April might shape up to be a month of heavy trading activity.

Mr Marcus Toh, principal trading representative at Phillip Securities, noted that most companies report their first quarter results this month and as such, "investors will be load and position trades on results releases".

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