Jun 26, 2014

    STI barely flinches as peers slide

    LOCAL shares were little changed on another day of low turnover, with World Cup action seemingly more captivating to investors than price-to-earning ratios.

    The benchmark Straits Times Index slipped 0.49 point or 0.02 per cent to 3,261.54, holding relatively steady compared with the sharper falls across the region.

    Turnover was meagre again, at only $795.5 million, but that was still an improvement on Tuesday, when trades totalled just $633.8 million, the lowest since Dec 26.

    "Investors do not see any new reasons to buy, and energy is being sapped as football addicts are sleeping all hours just to follow the World Cup matches," said NetResearch Asia.

    The low interest probably helped the market stay afloat, especially after major Wall Street indexes dropped between 0.4 and 0.7 per cent in overnight trade.

    "United States stocks fell as concerns of escalating violence in Iraq eclipsed better economic data in the US," said CMC Markets analyst Desmond Chua.

    At home, STI gainers included SingTel, up four cents or 1 per cent to $3.87. But stocks heading the other way included Noble Group, which lost 3.5 cents or 2.5 per cent to $1.36.

    Pawnbroker MoneyMax Financial Services rose half a cent or 1.47 per cent to 34.5 cents.

    DMG & Partners Research yesterday said it remains "neutral" on the stock, with a target price of 34 cents.

    MoneyMax said on Friday that it would invest RM15.63 million (S$6 million) to hold a 51 per cent stake in a network of Malaysian pawnshops, in its first overseas investment.

    The joint venture is with Malaysian jeweller Chong Mei Sang.

    "Contributions from Malaysia are most likely to positively impact MoneyMax only from financial year 2016 onwards, as...pawnshops typically take two to three years of operations to build a sizeable pledge base for profits to be generated," said DMG yesterday.

    "The expansion will currently be funded by internal sources and additional debt, but its management is open to the option of equity funding - depending on the situation at that point in time."

    DMG said that earnings visibility from Malaysia remains unclear.

    "Still, we think that MoneyMax is primed for long-term growth from financial year 2016 onwards - with over 70 outlets in Singapore and Malaysia - and we anticipate that it will be a company to look out for in the future."