Modest gains ahead of Fed chair's speech
SINGAPORE shares posted a third straight day of gains, to reach their highest level in three weeks but trading was light ahead of a key Federal Reserve speech.
The benchmark Straits Times Index closed 7.36 points or 0.26 per cent higher at 2,876.93, the best finish since the start of the month.
But the uptick was achieved in a very slow session with only 698.2 million shares worth $654.2 million traded across the market.
Some investors remained wary of what Fed chairman Janet Yellen may signal in her speech due after the market close tonight.
The STI was choppy all day, range-bound between 2,865 and 2,879.
Elsewhere, Asian bourses were mixed.
Shanghai slid 0.57 per cent as Hong Kong dropped 0.03 per cent. Tokyo was off 0.25 per cent. This followed a 0.35 per cent drop on Wall Street overnight.
Amid the lacklustre outing across the region, the Singapore market's modest gain was looked upon with little enthusiasm, as analysts pointed to strong economic headwinds in longer terms.
"The Singapore equity market has subsequently relapsed after an earlier bounce in 2016. The equity market has underperformed MSCI World since mid-2015… We remain bearish (on Singapore) within our global asset allocation," Jefferies analysts said in a note yesterday.
Still, 14 STI components rose, including all three local banks. United Overseas Bank was up 20 cents or 1.12 per cent to $18.08. OCBC closed up four cents or 0.46 per cent at $8.67 and DBS Group Holdings put on six cents or 0.39 per cent to $15.27.
Some market interest is returning to the banking stocks after the recent dip resulted from worries over asset quality issues and exposure to the oil and gas sector. OCBC and UOB both gained over 2 per cent in the past two days.
DBS rose 1.8 per cent in the same period.
Singapore Press Holdings closed four cents or 1.05 per cent higher at $3.86, and Thai Beverage rose one cent or 1.01 per cent to $1.00 with 15.4 million shares done.
Meanwhile, Golden Agri-Resources fell further, off one cent or 2.74 per cent to 35.5 cents, on 25.1 million shares done. Global Logistic Properties pared 2.5 cents or 1.30 per cent to $1.895.
Sembcorp Marine was down 1.5 cents or 1.12 per cent to $1.32. Keppel Corp was off one cent or 0.19 per cent to $5.39.