STI up for 4th straight day on ECB QE hopes
SHARES ended in positive territory for a fourth straight day ahead of a crucial decision by the European Central Bank (ECB) on monetary stimulus measures.
The Straits Times Index (STI) added 15.8 points or 0.5 per cent to 3,370.3 yesterday.
Turnover was a healthy 1.6 billion shares worth $1.3 billion, better than the daily average of $1.1 billion seen last week.
Hopes that the ECB would pump in more money into markets by announcing its first sovereign bond buying purchases, known as quantitative easing or QE, boosted sentiment.
Analysts had been expecting a QE programme in the range of between 500 billion euros (S$775 billion) and 600 billion euros.
"The size of this QE package is absolutely crucial for the markets and how the markets will react," Forex.com research director Kathleen Brooks told AFP.
"Anything below 500 billion (euros) would be considered a real disappointment, largely because it would just be a drop in the ocean, especially compared to QE programmes that we've got used to, things that came out of the Federal Reserve or the Bank of Japan."
Regional bourses mostly rose in anticipation of the ECB move.
Hong Kong added 0.7 per cent, Shanghai gained 0.6 per cent, Tokyo was up 0.3 per cent but Seoul was unchanged.
In Singapore, transport plays saw mixed fortunes after the Government announcement that public-transport fares will rise by 2.8 per cent.
SBS Transit fell half a cent to $1.805 and parent firm ComfortDelGro dipped a cent to $2.63, while SMRT rose a cent to $1.645.
Commodities player Noble saw plenty of action, landing among the top active counters as it rose seven cents to $1.055 with some 59 million shares traded.
Other top gainers were the usual suspects from the Jardine group. Jardine Strategic Holdings jumped 61 US cents (81 Singapore cents) to US$35.53 and Jardine C&C added 48 cents to $40.83.
Two property firms also featured among the top gainers. City Developments increased 18 cents to $10.32 while UOL added 18 cents to $7.01.
Singapore Exchange rose four cents to $7.94 after it announced a 16 per cent increase in quarterly net profit to $86.6 million.
"Slower-than-expected market activity will derail revenue generation. Derivatives, which are a growing revenue generator, could be at risk if products do not generate sufficient trading volumes," DBS Research analyst Lim Sue Lin wrote in a note, giving SGX a hold rating.