Boost from higher oil price, lower fear of US rate hikes
ASIAN markets moved higher for the second day - albeit with modest gains - as optimism over crude prices and the upcoming rate hikes in the United States continued to pick up.
The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) inched up 6.65 points, or 0.24 per cent, to 2,773.31.
Elsewhere in the region, Shanghai rose 0.26 per cent, helped by buying of large-cap stocks. Hong Kong added 0.14 per cent and Tokyo put on 0.09 per cent.
The positive sentiment was likely carried over from Wall Street, up 0.82 per cent overnight thanks to signs of a stronger economy.
"We've seen some positive movement in the past two days, driven mostly by receding fears over higher interest rates in the US, given the stronger economic numbers," said Kelvin Wong, chief technical strategist for Asia at City Index. "But this seems to be short-term speculation. All things being equal, things are still pretty negative in the market."
Gains on the STI were capped by stocks such as Singapore Exchange, which slid nine cents or 1.2 per cent to $7.58. The bourse operator confirmed yesterday it has entered into exclusive talks to acquire the Baltic Exchange - a deal which could be priced at around US$100 million (S$138 million), according to observers.
On the other hand, oil and gas-related plays were among the biggest winners as crude prices surpassed the US$50 a barrel mark.
Keppel Corporation rose 13 cents or 2.5 per cent to $5.40. Sembcorp Marine advanced two cents or 1.3 per cent to $1.56 while parent firm Sembcorp Industries added three cents or 1.1 per cent to $2.79.
Outside the STI, offshore contractor Ezra Holdings jumped 0.2 cent or 2.9 per cent to seven cents in heavy trade, and Vallianz Holdings gained 0.1 cent or 2.6 per cent to 3.9 cents.
Property development and investment firm Cedar Strategic Holdings was the day's most heavily traded on a volume of 133 million shares.
It closed flat at 0.4 cent.