Jul 05, 2016

    Punters seek shelter with defensive stocks

    SINGAPORE stocks continue to shrug off Brexit blues and worries that more European Union members could hold referendums in the months ahead, as investors sought the safety of defensive and high-yield stocks.

    The buying activity pushed the Straits Times Index up 24.19 points or 0.85 per cent to 2,870.56.

    The rally was led by defensive plays such as Thai Beverage, which jumped 3.8 per cent or 3.5 cents to 94.5 cents and SembCorp Industries, up 3.2 per cent or nine cents to $2.91.

    Other hotly traded counters included Golden Agri-Resources, which jumped 4.3 per cent or 1.5 cents to 36.5 cents, with 41.8 million shares changing hands.

    Genting Singapore rose 4.1 per cent or three cents to 76.5 cents, with 30.6 million shares traded.

    Speculation that uncertainty in Europe could send fund flows back to Asia is also buoying shares, according to NetResearch Asia.

    "We could see a brief pull-back but, generally, traders are still harbouring hopes of fresh stimulus to boost global growth will be announced," it said.

    Herald van der Linde, HSBC head of equity strategy, Asia Pacific, remains overweight on Singapore.

    "We believe this defensive market offers some well-managed companies and currently trades at attractive valuations... The market's dividend yield of 4.3 per cent is the highest in the region.

    "Sector-wise, we continue to like Singapore's banking sector."

    DBS Group edged up 0.5 per cent or eight cents to $15.78. OCBC rose 0.2 per cent or two cents to $8.77.

    UOB advanced 0.1 per cent or two cents to $18.54.

    DBS Group Research said its post-Brexit strategy is to seek shelter in yield stocks and S-Reits. "We maintain our S-Reit picks as global interest rates are likely to stay low for longer after central banks voiced their readiness to do what they can to contain any fallout from Brexit," it said.

    Analysts see the market trading sideways until a clearer picture emerges from the upcoming second-quarter corporate earnings season.

    Earnings are expected to decline by 4.2 per cent this year, compared with a 9.2 per cent increase in 2015, Mr van der Linde said.

    Meanwhile, skincare and wellness product maker Best World surged 14.3 per cent or 19 cents to $1.52 on news that its subsidiary was granted a direct selling licence in China.

    Malaysian gold miner Anchor Resources and gold producer CNMC Goldmine continued to chalk up gains as gold prices surged to a new 52-week high of US$1,350.31 an ounce.

    News that Anchor has proposed to buy a diamond stone granite operator lifted the stock 2.6 per cent or 0.3 cent to 11.9 cents, with 30.4 million shares traded.

    CNMC jumped 8.9 per cent or four cents to 49 cents, with 25.9 million shares traded on news that it is planning to acquire a controlling stake in a Malaysian mining company.