Feb 19, 2014

    Markets amble along as US takes a break

    THE Singapore market inched up

    yesterday, continuing a strong two-week run that has added almost 4 per cent to the Straits Times Index (STI).

    The STI spent the session trading in a narrow range before closing at 3,070.78 points, up just 1.5 points or 0.05 per cent.

    United States markets were closed overnight for the Presidents' Day holiday, so there was not much to guide investors searching for market direction.

    That hit market turnover, with only $870 million worth of shares traded, lower than Monday's $1.03 billion.

    Still, the bourse has been on a roll over the past fortnight, and the STI has lost value on only one of the last nine trading days.

    Yesterday's close was 3.7 per cent higher than its Feb 5 close of 2,960.09.

    "Investors continue to take weak economic data in their stride, on hopes that supportive monetary policies will continue to lend support to boost growth," said a note by NetResearch Asia.

    "Dealers said investors who missed (the recent) low are now cautiously nibbling on pullbacks."

    Land transport operator ComfortDelGro Corp fell one cent or 0.51 per cent to $1.955, while there were no trades in its unit, SBS Transit. Fellow transport company SMRT Corp lost half a cent or 0.48 per cent to $1.03.

    Parliament passed a Bill on Monday that could mean much heftier fines for SMRT and SBS Transit for train disruptions.

    The change raises the maximum penalty for a service disruption to 10 per cent of the annual fare revenue of a rail line. The current cap is $1 million for each incident.

    Mapletree Logistics Trust was flat at $1.02. Its manager said on Monday that a fire on Saturday damaged part of the Mapletree Xi'an Distribution Centre in China. The manager expects minimal impact on its portfolio.

    Penny stocks and smaller counters had a good outing - the FTSE ST Catalist Index gained 1.8 per cent and FTSE ST Small Cap Index advanced 0.54 per cent.

    Penny stocks in play included HanKore Environment Tech Group, up 0.6 cent or 4.96 per cent to 12.7 cents. About 367.9 million shares changed hands, making HanKore the most active stock by units traded.

    Markets were muted elsewhere in the region, because of Monday's Wall Street close. Sydney added 0.18 per cent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index gained 0.23 per cent.

    An exception was Tokyo, which jumped 3.13 per cent after the Bank of Japan expanded a loan programme to the country's commercial banks.