Jun 03, 2016

    Slight lift for STI as investors stay on the sidelines

    SINGAPORE shares finished slightly higher yesterday, with investors largely sidelined ahead of an Organisation of a Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) meeting.

    The Straits Times Index added 0.16 per cent or 4.55 points to close at 2,795.09.

    Much of the heavy lifting was done by Thai Beverage, which gained 2.8 per cent or 2.5 cents to 92.5 cents, with 47.6 million shares traded.

    ThaiBev helped give a lift to the overall consumer staple sector to be the best performer last month, with a 3.5 per cent average market capitalisation weighted total return, according to SGX My Gateway.

    The 20 biggest consumer stocks have averaged a 16.3 per cent year to date total return. Consumer staples were among the most actively traded stocks yesterday.

    Other food and beverage companies in vogue include Sino Grandness Food Industry Group, which jumped 9.4 per cent or 6.5 cents to 76 cents on speculation that it is edging closer to an initial public offering of its Garden Fresh unit in Hong Kong.

    Yeo Hiap Seng extended gains, putting on 7.5 cents or 5.1 per cent at $1.56, despite saying it could not explain the unusual price movement after the Singapore Exchange's query on Wednesday.

    Oil-related counters Keppel Corp, Sembcorp Industries and Sembcorp Marine gained as oil prices held steady ahead of the Opec meeting. Keppel gained 0.2 per cent or one cent to $5.30, SembIndustries edged up 0.4 per cent or one cent to $2.78 and SembMarine rose 1.3 per cent or two cents to $1.555.

    Many participants are expecting plans for an output ceiling - rumoured to have conditional support of Saudi Arabia - to be derailed by Iran's rejection of the proposal.

    Golden Agri-Resources rose 2.6 per cent or one cent to 39 cents, while Wilmar International grew 1.8 per cent or six cents to $3.39.

    Local bank counters held up after rating agency Fitch Ratings on Wednesday affirmed their ratings at AA- with a stable outlook. OCBC edged up 0.4 per cent or three cents to $8.60. United Overseas Bank was flat at $18.28, while DBS Group Holdings dipped 0.1 per cent or one cent to $15.49.

    Fitch said OCBC, UOB and DBS had "strong funding profiles, which stem from their entrenched domestic franchises, healthy loss-absorption buffers, steady profitability and stringent regulatory oversight".