Penny stocks upstage the big boys
PENNY stocks were the highlight of trading yesterday, eking out gains owing to speculative interest, even as the rest of the market headed south.
First, the bad news.
The blue-chip Straits Times Index fell 11.38 points or 0.34 per cent to 3,293.82, while the broad market FTSE ST All Share Index also lost 0.34 per cent.
Still, the market's smallest companies provided some cheer, though their increases would have been considered unimpressive in any other session.
The FTSE ST Fledgling Index rose 0.24 per cent, while the FTSE ST Catalist Index added 0.56 per cent. Both track penny stocks.
"It was a very good trading session (for the penny stocks)," said remisier Alvin Yong.
The most active counter was Blumont Group, which added 1.1 cents - or 20.8 per cent - to 6.4 cents on 345.4 million units traded.
Several of the gainers were involved in October's dramatic penny-stock crash, such as Blumont, LionGold Corp and Asiasons Capital.
Ipco International and Innopac Holdings also rose; these firms have been asked by the white-collar-crimes unit to provide information for it to investigate the penny-stock crash.
Of the 20 most active counters by units traded, 19 were under 20 cents. The exception was Gallant Venture, which rose half a cent or 1.37 per cent to 37 cents, on 41.48 million shares.
The blue chips had a considerably weaker showing.
SingTel fell two cents or 0.5 per cent to $3.86, despite an upbeat report from Maybank Kim Eng Research yesterday.
Maybank Kim Eng predicted a "more exciting year ahead" for SingTel.
It said that SingTel's growth this financial year will be driven by the adoption of 4G and the monetisation of pay television, and a good performance from all associates except Thailand's AIS.
SingTel's associate companies will benefit from rising data usage and the expected stability of regional currencies, Maybank Kim Eng added.
In Australia, SingTel subsidiary Optus plans to aggressively regain market share, while the Digital Life initiatives - launched in 2012 - are already enabling SingTel companies to better compete, said Maybank Kim Eng.
It has a "buy" call and target price of $4.35 on SingTel.
Elsewhere in the region, Hong Kong shares added 0.9 per cent and Shanghai climbed 1.1 per cent after data showed higher inflation in China.