Feb 12, 2015

    Blue chips spur second day of STI rise

    THE local stock market stacked up gains for a second straight day, helped again by increased interest in blue chips.

    The Straits Times Index (STI) added 10.3 points or 0.3 per cent to close at 3,444.6.

    Remisier Walter Wong said: "The gains have been driven by the big names so far, but the rest of the market was very quiet, probably because of the Chinese New Year period."

    He said fund managers are likely the driving force behind the STI's strength, as retail participation looks weak with a lack of interest in small and mid-cap stocks.

    Losers outnumbered gainers by a count of 247 to 184 in the broader market.

    Turnover was just $974.2 million with 1.1 billion shares traded, compared with the daily average of $1.2 billion so far this year.

    "Singapore could also be taking the positive cue from the United States, where better corporate earnings and developments drove markets higher," said Mr Wong.

    Wall Street saw overnight gains of 0.8 per cent on the Dow Jones Industrial Average while the S&P 500 rose 1.1 per cent.

    Technology giant Apple closed at a record high after its first bonds priced in Swiss francs were well received while Coca-Cola posted better-than-expected earnings.

    Asian bourses had a mixed day, with Shanghai rising 0.5 per cent, Seoul adding 0.5 per cent while Hong Kong lost 0.9 per cent. Japanese markets were closed for a public holiday.

    Top gainers included insurer Great Eastern, which rose $1.24 to $25.78, and City Developments, which added 17 cents to $10.36.

    Developer UOL also ranked among the top gainers, jumping 38 cents or 5.1 per cent to $7.90. This prompted a query from the Singapore Exchange. The company said it was not aware of any reason for the spike.

    OCBC ended unchanged at $10.60 after it reported that fourth-quarter earnings rose 11 per cent to $791 million. The number was below market estimates for a profit of $883 million.

    Barclays Equity Research said profit fell below expectations "mainly because of a lower-than-expected net interest margin, market-related fee income as well as higher-than-expected credit cost from general provisioning".

    Other banks fared better as DBS Group Holdings, which reported its results on Tuesday, climbed a cent to $19.51 while United Overseas Bank, which will announce its results tomorrow, gained four cents to $23.52.

    Singapore Exchange added six cents to $8.20 after it announced the appointment of its current head of listings, Lawrence Wong, as the head of its China business, as part of its expansion of international presence.