Nov 18, 2015

    Markets back in black but sentiment stays weak

    REGIONAL shares rallied yesterday to recover from Monday's loss as investors returned to the market after the shock of the Paris attacks but no one is tipping major gains in the days ahead.

    The 1.38 per cent rise on Wall Street overnight gave Asian markets the cue to regain their footing.

    Hong Kong rose 1.15 per cent, Tokyo closed up 1.22 per cent, and Kuala Lumpur was up 0.33 per cent. Shanghai was strong in the morning session but lost steam in the afternoon to close down 0.06 per cent.

    "Markets are slowly becoming more immune to these types of events. Right at the opening, there was a bit of a panic trade and then from there more steady hands came in and bought the market," R J O'Brien & Associates managing director John Brady told Reuters in Chicago.

    The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) here gained a marginal 1.05 points or 0.04 per cent to 2,916.78 after being as high as 2,939 in the morning before an afternoon selldown.

    The overall market remained lukewarm, with only $820.5 million worth of shares transacted, implying that investor sentiment remains fragile, remisier Desmond Leong told the Straits Times.

    "I think investors took the opportunity of the strong start to sell and cut losses. The sentiments are still weak, and despite (yesterday's gain), I don't see STI retaking the 3,000 level, at least not within this week," he added.

    The outlook for yesterday's top active counter Yuuzoo Corporation was also not particularly bright, Mr Leong noted, after about 156.3 million shares in the the e-commerce company changed hands. It pared 1.5 cents or 6.12 per cent to 23 cents.

    "Yuuzoo has been the flavour of the day, a target for investors excited over the growth prospects in the digital space," said Mr Leong.

    "Last week, it also reported profit growth for the third quarter, compared with last year's loss. But I think the shares are reaching the capitulation point and further gains should be limited."

    Noble Group was another active counter, with 76.7 million shares transacted. The commodity firm dropped 1.5 cents or 3.45 per cent to 42 cents - the biggest drop among the blue chips.

    UOL Group lost 11 cents or 1.76 per cent to $6.13, while Genting Singapore dipped one cent or 1.32 per cent to 74.5 cents.

    City Developments closed one cent or 0.13 per cent down at $7.60, a day after the sudden death of deputy chairman and executive director Kwek Leng Joo from a heart attack.

    At the other end of STI, ComfortDelGro gained the most, up five cents or 1.67 per cent to $3.05, above the $3 target price called by DBS analyst Andy Sim.

    "We like its stable growth and geographical diversification, but we believe this has been priced in at this juncture with the counter trading... above its five-year historical average," he said, giving the company a hold call.

    Both Sembcorp units rose, with Sembcorp Industries up three cents or 0.89 per cent to $3.40 while Sembcorp Marine gained three cents or 1.35 per cent to $2.25.