Nov 04, 2014

    Local banks' Q3 earnings give STI boost

    STRONG third quarter earnings by the local banks helped to lift the local market yesterday.

    The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) gained 16.59 points, or 0.51 per cent, to close at 3,290.84.

    This followed a rally on Wall Street on Friday after Japan's central bank said it would ramp up its monetary stimulus programme, effectively weakening the yen.

    Across the rest of Asia, however, signs that China's economy is losing steam led to a mixed showing.

    China's services sector grew at its slowest pace in nine months last month, partly due to a cooling property market, going by an official gauge of activity released yesterday.

    The Chinese government's non-manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 53.8 last month from 54 in September. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. The world's No. 2 economy grew 7.3 per cent in the third quarter, its slowest pace in more than five years.

    China's broadening slowdown weighed down Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index by 0.3 per cent.

    "A weaker than expected reading for Chinese manufacturing was a timely reminder that all is still not well," Jonathan Sudaria, a trader at London Capital Group Holdings, told Bloomberg.

    "The brewing storm clouds of slowing global growth still hang over markets."

    Shanghai, however, rose 0.4 per cent to reach its highest level since February last year, on hopes of Chinese stimulus measures following the weak economic numbers.

    Seoul dropped 0.6 per cent, partly on concerns that a weaker yen would help Japanese carmakers outdo their Korean rivals. Tokyo was shut for a public holiday.

    In Singapore, the local banks fared well. DBS Group Holdings jumped 34 cents to $18.82 and United Overseas Bank climbed 29 cents to $23.29. OCBC closed six cents higher at $9.95.

    Lifestyle group Osim International continued to slide after its dismal earnings last week, losing 17 cents to $1.69.

    Fraser & Neave also sank 4.8 per cent yesterday after a tribunal ruled that its Myanmar partner has the right to buy its stake in a joint-venture brewery.

    The most active stock was Catalist-listed oil and gas firm Charisma Energy Services. About 186.6 million shares changed hands and the counter rose 0.8 cent to end at 3.8 cents.