China, US impress regional markets
SINGAPORE shares stretched their rally to a fifth straight day yesterday, thanks to upbeat data from China and bright signals from the United States.
The positive mood sent the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) up 6.35 points or 0.21 per cent to 3,035.45, but trading volumes remained relatively modest, with 2.3 billion shares worth $922.7 million changing hands.
A broker said: "It looks like the markets are finally (gearing) up slowly, after a terrible start to the Year of the Horse."
Regional markets were a sea of green, with Japan rising 0.6 per cent, Shanghai up 0.3 per cent and Australia adding 1.1 per cent.
Hong Kong was the brightest spark, with the Hang Seng Index soaring 1.5 per cent after climbing 1.8 per cent on Tuesday.
Analysts mostly attributed yesterday's regional gains to feel-good factors in the world's two largest economies.
Data showed that trade grew unexpectedly in China last month.
Then there was last night's maiden congressional testimony by new US Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen.
"Investors seem to like the certainty and confidence of Yellen. When she testified before the House yesterday, she sent equities and treasury yields higher," said CMC Markets analyst Desmond Chua.
Her comments sparked an overnight gain of 1.22 per cent for Wall Street, giving Asian stocks an upbeat start.
Here, there were 16 risers among the 30 STI component counters, with just nine down and five unchanged.
The day's better performers included Singapore Airlines, up 20 cents to $9.95, and the Jardine stocks: Jardine Strategic advanced 97 US cents (S$1.23) to US$32.07 and Jardine Matheson gained 99 US cents to US$54.
But there was no similar cheer for Hutchison Port Holdings Trust, which closed flat at 66 US cents after posting weak quarterly results.
The container-port business trust fell as much as 2.3 per cent to 64.5 US cents during the session - its lowest since Dec 20 - before an afternoon rally.
DBS Group Research noted that "the worst is over" for the stock, adding that its prospective yield of 8.2 per cent for the 2014 financial year is "attractive".
Flight-services company Sats was in the spotlight after it reported on Tuesday that third-quarter net profit slid 8.7 per cent. The counter slipped 11 cents to $3.07.
UOB Kay Hian noted that the profit figure was 11 per cent lower than its estimates, and stated a suggested entry price for investors at $2.94.
The day's most active stock was Transcu, which closed unchanged at 0.2 cent with 254.3 million units traded.