Jan 29, 2015

    Investors cash in on MAS' move

    INVESTORS were quick to take profit yesterday on the back of the initial surge sparked by a surprise move by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to ease monetary policy.

    There was added incentive to cash out in case the United States Federal Reserve, which was due to announce its latest stance on interest rates early this morning, unleashes another surprise.

    The moves left the benchmark Straits Times Index up 6.95 points at 3,419.15, with 1.34 billion shares worth $1.14 billion traded.

    The FTSE ST Oil & Gas Index gained 1.12 per cent to 556.84, thanks in part to gains in its two biggest stocks.

    Keppel Corp jumped 1.45 per cent or 12 cents to $8.38, while Sembcorp Industries added 0.7 per cent or three cents to $4.30.

    The day was dominated by MAS' unscheduled statement that it will seek a slower pace of appreciation against a basket of currencies.

    It also lowered its inflation forecast for this year. The announcement sent the Singdollar to its lowest point against the greenback since 2010.

    "The MAS move is expected to help exporters and the manufacturing sector. It's partly in response to the European Central Bank's quantitative easing plans, which have caused the Singapore dollar to appreciate against the euro, which is bad for our exports there," remisier Alvin Yong said.

    But the initial euphoria over the MAS move wore off as investors started to take profit ahead of the close of the Fed meeting, Phillip Futures investment analyst Howie Lee said.

    A tumble in US stocks on Wednesday, caused by poor corporate earnings and durable-goods orders, also hit local shares.

    Penny stocks continued to rule the roost, with Memstar Technology, SIIC Environment and Golden Agri-Resources among the top active stocks by volume.

    Memstar jumped 5.6 per cent or 0.1 cent to 1.9 cent, with 56.2 million shares changing hands, while SIIC Environment gained 1.4 per cent or 0.2 cent to 14.2 cents, with 41.5 million shares traded. Golden Agri-Resources dipped 1.1 per cent or 0.5 cent to 43.5 cents, with 38.6 million shares traded.

    Armarda Group soared 33 per cent or 0.1 cent to 0.4 cent, with 31.9 million shares traded.

    The Hong Kong IT consultancy will offer up to 2.13 billion new shares through a placement exercise, at 0.5 cent each, to raise about HK$60.7 million (S$10.6 million).