STI creeps up amid mixed global news
SHARES were little changed after investors digested mixed global economic news over the weekend.
The Straits Times Index (STI) crept up by a point yesterday to 3,403.9, with turnover at a healthy $1.3 billion as 1.4 billion shares changed hands.
It traded in the red for most of the day, falling by as much as 13 points before a flurry of buying activity in the final minutes enabled it to close in positive territory.
Weak data from the United States and China dampened investor sentiment.
Fourth-quarter growth in the US was downgraded to 2.2 per cent from an initial estimate of 2.6 per cent on Friday.
Meanwhile, China reported on Sunday that its official purchasing managers' index (PMI) contracted for a second month last month.
But the downbeat news was countered by positive developments from Germany and monetary loosening measures in China, which gave markets here some support.
Germany reported yesterday that its PMI last month for the manufacturing sector increased from January's reading of 50.9 to 51.1.
China's central bank also cut the deposit and lending rates on Saturday, the second rate cut in three months, signalling the willingness of the People's Bank of China (PBOC) to spur the economy.
"The lack of movement in the markets following the surprise rate cut from the PBOC is a sign of the task ahead," Oanda Corp analyst Craig Erlam told Bloomberg.
"They clearly believe that this rate cut will be insufficient and much more needs to be done."
Despite the conflicting data, Asian bourses rose, clinging on to hopes that greater stimulus measures will boost stock markets.
Shanghai gained 0.8 per cent, Seoul rose 0.6 per cent, Hong Kong added 0.3 per cent and Tokyo was up 0.2 per cent.
Property stocks were in focus here, after Hong Kong announced cooling measures largely targeted at buyers of the red-hot small homes segment and Singapore lowered the development charges for condominiums.
Hongkong Land, which develops mostly high-end residential projects, rose 13 US cents to US$7.68, adding 2.4 points to the STI to give it the biggest boost yesterday.
Major developers had mixed fortunes, with CapitaLand up a cent to $3.60, City Developments dropping six cents to $10.17 and Keppel Land flat at $4.54.
Printing company Xpress Holdings was the top volume counter. It dropped 0.1 cent to 1.2 cent with 85.9 million shares traded.