Feb 12, 2014

    Blue chips put some life into a quiet February

    SINGAPORE shares extended their rallying streak to a fourth straight session yesterday, boosted by upbeat investor sentiment across the region.

    The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) rebounded 11.9 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 3,029.10 as traders bought blue chips such as Singapore Airlines and Sembcorp Marine.

    However, trading volumes remained relatively muted, with

    1.8 billion shares worth $728 million changing hands.

    A broker said: "The market was very quiet, especially in the first trading hour, but, in the afternoon, some life came back. Overall, still a quiet February after a bad January."

    The STI has regained nearly 70 points, or about 2.4 per cent, since hitting a 15-month low of 2,960 a week ago.

    The mood was bright in Asia, with the strongest gains in Hong Kong, where stocks rose 1.8 per cent.

    There was also cheer for Shanghai stocks, which increased 0.8 per cent, and South Korea shares, which added 0.5 per cent.

    Investors were buoyant ahead of last night's United States congressional testimony, which saw new Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen giving her first speech on monetary policy and economic outlook.

    Analysts said market players would be looking for fresh clues on the pace of tapering.

    CMC Markets analyst Desmond Chua said: "Market watchers will listen out for any new language surrounding forward guidance and the 6.5 per cent unemployment benchmark which, in recent months, has diminished in relevance with a declining participation rate."

    Here, 21 of the 30 STI component counters went up, with just three losers and six unchanged.

    The gainers included SIA, which posted its biggest one-day gain in nearly 21/2 years, soaring as much as 4 per cent to $9.85 during the session, before closing 28 cents ahead at $9.75.

    SembMarine also enjoyed an upbeat outing, closing seven cents up at $4.11.

    Most banks and property counters got a lift following an announcement from the central bank that makes it easier for home owners to refinance existing mortgages.

    OCBC Bank added three cents to $9.40, while United Overseas Bank gained four cents to $19.87, with DBS Group Holdings flat at $16.38.

    CapitaLand edged up four cents to $2.88, while City Developments increased seven cents to $9.25.

    The day's most active counter was Transcu, which closed flat at 0.2 cent, with 410.6 million shares done.