May 26, 2016

    Asian stocks up as US new home sales hit 8-year high

    ASIAN stocks made a solid comeback yesterday, taking their cue from positive data in the United States.

    The Straits Times Index (STI), in line with the regionwide rally, climbed 16.43 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 2,766.66.

    Data which showed the Singapore economy expanded modestly during the first quarter likely put a dampener on sentiment while trade agency IE Enterprise Singapore slashed export forecasts for the year amid a weaker trade outlook.

    Wall Street rode high on confidence on Tuesday, jumping 1.22 per cent following a report that April new-home sales surged to their highest in more than eight years.

    This helped offset fears over impending interest-rate hikes, with the next expected to come into play as soon as next month.

    "Strong US new-home sales have added credence to the Fed's claims that the US economy may be strong enough for another rate hike in June or July," Angus Nicholson, a Melbourne-based market analyst at IG, told Bloomberg.

    In Asia, Hong Kong surged 2.71 per cent, Tokyo grew 1.57 per cent and Sydney put on 1.45 per cent.

    Shanghai was an anomaly, slipping 0.23 per cent on yuan depreciation worries given the stronger greenback.

    The three local lenders helped lift the STI yesterday, with DBS Group Holdings up 15 cents or 1 per cent to $15.31. OCBC Bank advanced seven cents or 0.8 per cent to $8.47 while United Overseas Bank grew 12 cents or 0.7 per cent to $18.03.

    The oil and gas-related plays also fared well as crude prices inched higher to levels of US$50 a barrel.

    Keppel Corporation rose four cents or 0.8 per cent to $5.27.

    Sembcorp Industries grew two cents or 0.7 per cent to $2.76 while its rig-building arm, Sembcorp Marine, was unchanged at $1.54.

    A total of 1.05 billion shares worth $793.7 million changed hands across the bourse.