Small-caps propel STI to 2-year high

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ST Index closes strongly after good week, but mood remains cautious

Shoppers may have swarmed Orchard Road, but Black Friday was another quiet day on the local market, even as the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) closed at a fresh two-year high.

The index was up 18.98 points, or 0.55 per cent, to 3,442.15, with gainers outnumbering losers 243 to 172.

But the movement was largely on the back of penny stock activity, with the nearly 2.57 billion shares that changed hands worth just $911.9 million.

One reason for caution across Asian bourses could be the recent plunge in Chinese markets, which was sparked by fears of regulators potentially clamping down on speculation and high valuations.

Still, the STI was, for the second time in three days, at its highest since May 2015.

Cosco Shipping International, which has formally set a Jan 5 deadline for its bid to take Cogent Holdings private, rose 6.5 Singapore cents, or 13.83 per cent, to $0.535 on a volume of 62.6 million shares.

Early childhood education provider MindChamps PreSchool, which made its debut on the bourse at $0.83 a share, finished its first day 10.8 per cent higher at $0.92, on a turnover of 21.7 million shares.

Thai Beverage, whose 38.5 per cent jump in full-year net profit met analysts' measured approval, closed up three Singapore cents, or 3.19 per cent, at $0.97, with almost 29.7 million shares changing hands.

Meanwhile, engineering and construction services company Civmec announced that it has clinched a role in a multi-billion-dollar shipbuilding project for the Australian navy. Its shares rose by four Singapore cents, or 7.27 per cent, to $0.59.

This... suggests that global demand is picking up and the cyclical recovery momentum remains strong. CMC Markets Singapore analyst Margaret Yang

Malaysia-based Top Glove Corporation, which makes rubber gloves, closed up one Singapore cent, or 0.46 per cent, to $2.21. It had announced that it is in exclusive negotiations to buy the medical gloves unit of Adventa Capital in a cash-and-shares deal.

Another hot stock for the day, albeit in the wrong direction, was aluminium alloy company Midas Holdings.

More than 39.4 million shares were moved over the course of the day, leaving Midas down 0.6 Singapore cent, or 3.9 per cent, to $0.148.

Midas was slapped with a query by SGX over heavy selling in its stock, to which it replied that it was not aware of any information that could explain the unusual trading activity.

Beleaguered Noble Group also continued its descent, losing 1.7 Singapore cents, or 9.19 per cent, to $0.168 on a turnover of close to 7.85 million shares.

STI's performance was in general a strong close to a good week that saw Singapore's gross domestic product numbers surpass estimates on Thursday.

CMC Markets Singapore analyst Margaret Yang noted: "This, alongside higher economic expansion observed in other South-east Asian countries - Thailand, Philippines and Malaysia - suggests that global demand is picking up and the cyclical recovery momentum remains strong."

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