Mar 26, 2015

    STI up amid hopes of Wall Street rebound

    AS THE end of the month draws nearer, thoughts among traders must inevitably be turning to whether the Straits Times Index will enjoy a quarter-ending, window-dressing push and, if so, which stocks might be employed.

    These thoughts are understandable, given that at the end of yesterday's session, in which the STI rose 5.76 points to 3,419.02, the year-to-date performance stands at just 1.6 per cent. This is feeble by most standards, given zero interest rates and a supposedly recovering United States economy.

    Still, the rise in the index came in tandem with a rise in Hong Kong and the US futures market, so traders were clearly betting on Wall Street rebounding yesterday from its Tuesday drop.

    Turnover was a concern throughout last year. Although it picked up slightly in January and last month, it still remains a worry.

    Yesterday, 1.24 billion units worth $950.6 million were traded, below the $1 billion to $1.2 billion daily average of recent weeks. Excluding warrants, there were 240 rises versus 167 falls.

    The index's gain came mainly from rises in United Overseas Bank, Singtel and Keppel Corp, while the unit volume list was headed by SIIC Environment, which rose 1.4 cents or 9.3 per cent to 16.4 cents on volume of 135.6 million.

    Meanwhile, Indonesian shares ended at their lowest in more than four weeks yesterday as foreign investors sold risky assets amid a weakening rupiah, while other South-east Asian markets closed mixed after Chinese factory activity came in weaker than expected.

    Jakarta's composite index fell 0.8 per cent to its lowest close since Feb 23, Thomson Reuters data showed. Foreign investors sold a net US$30.61 million (S$41.8 million) worth of shares.

    The rupiah's weakness against the US dollar is still a concern, said Andri Zakarias, an analyst with BNI Securities, adding that foreign selling pressure was still seen in the stock market.

    The rupiah was down 0.64 per cent yesterday, after having risen to its highest in more than two weeks on Tuesday, partly as uncertainty over the timing of US interest rate hikes lifted most emerging Asian currencies.

    Activity in China's factory sector slid to an 11-month low this month as new orders shrank, a private survey showed, indicating that the economy may need more policy stimulus.

    Vietnam's benchmark VN Index fell 1.15 per cent to close at its lowest since Feb 3, led by a slump in PetroVietNam Gas, the country's biggest listed firm by market value.

    In Manila, the main stock index recovered from early losses and closed 0.1 per cent up, but the gains were capped by investor concerns over the monetary policy meeting today.

    In Bangkok, the SET index surrendered its early gains to end 0.1 per cent weaker at its lowest close since Jan 7.