Apr 23, 2014

    Asia cheers as US stocks keep climbing

    A STRONG lead from Wall Street was enough to spark a rally on the local market and bring some cheer across Asia.

    The benchmark Straits Times Index rose 21.7 points, or 0.67 per cent, to 3,277.53 as United States stocks climbed for the fifth straight session on Monday.

    The gains there came on the back of robust earnings reported by blue chips such as Halliburton and Hasbro.

    Other regional bourses rejoiced as well, with Shanghai advancing 0.34 per cent, Taiwan adding 0.26 per cent and Seoul gaining 0.25 per cent.

    But traders in Tokyo and Hong Kong had their attention focused elsewhere.

    Tokyo dropped 0.85 per cent as punters noted the yen's weakening against the greenback, while Hong Kong slipped 0.13 per cent amid news of a graft probe at China Resources Holdings, which sacked chairman Song Lin over the weekend.

    "We're in a period when the market is paying close attention to US economic factors," said Yasuhiro Kaizaki, vice-president for global markets in New York at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, in an interview with Bloomberg.

    "Data will be the focus this week."

    US data on housing and factory output is due this week.

    Banking stocks at home all gained ground after CIMB Research released a report yesterday maintaining its optimistic outlook on the sector.

    DBS rose four cents to $16.90, OCBC gained five cents to $9.65 and United Overseas Bank - which CIMB named as its pick of the bunch - climbed 42 cents to $22.45.

    CIMB analysts Kenneth Ng and Jessalynn Chen noted that DBS and OCBC recently rolled out new deposit accounts with higher interest rates.

    However, they added, "a closer look at details and industry data suggests that the headline rates are not cut-throat, but marketing-driven", and that "it is a tad premature to worry about margins" at the banks.

    CapitaMalls Asia was among the top actives yesterday, rising two cents to $2.21.

    Parent firm CapitaLand has launched a takeover offer for the firm at $2.22 a share, and plans to take it private.

    Ascendas Reit climbed three cents to $2.36 after reporting on Monday fourth-quarter distribution per unit of 3.55 cents, up 16 per cent from the same period a year ago.

    Mapletree Logistics Trust added a cent to $1.085 after posting a distribution per unit of 1.89 cents for its fourth quarter, up 9.2 per cent from a year earlier.