STI hits 8-month high despite slow session
LOCAL shares inched up yesterday amid a lethargic session, but the market still managed to hit an eight-month high.
The benchmark Straits Times Index was ahead by 6.88 points or 0.21 per cent to 3,253.2 - the highest since Aug 2.
The cash offers for CapitaMalls Asia and Hotel Properties sparked enthusiasm on Tuesday, but this effect had died down by yesterday.
"Markets continue to meander," said NetResearch Asia.
It said the Singapore bourse is "looking for clearer leads on the direction, given that economic growth appears to be hitting a slowdown and growth factors appear strained".
CapitaMalls Asia was flat at $2.19, a touch below the $2.22-per-share offer unveiled by parent company CapitaLand.
CapitaLand continued to rise, putting on two cents or 0.6 per cent to $3.13. Investors predicted that it would benefit from the lucrative retail malls segment, especially in China, if it manages to privatise CapitaMalls Asia.
Hotel Properties (HPL) gained 13 cents or 3.7 per cent to $3.66, ahead of the $3.50-a-share cash offer tabled for it.
The offer was from a company owned mostly by Wheelock Properties and Mr Ong Beng Seng, HPL's controlling shareholder.
Wheelock added two cents or 1.1 per cent to $1.835 yesterday.
A CIMB Research note on Wheelock said the offer should be viewed positively: "It appears to be an opportunistic move on cheap valuations and will strategically pave the way for future collaborations to unlock value.
"This does not alter Wheelock's position as a prime privatisation candidate in the longer term."
It upgraded Wheelock to "add" from "hold" and raised the target price to $1.98 from $1.95.
Elsewhere in the region, Hong Kong inched up 0.11 per cent and Shanghai was up by 0.17 per cent.
China said yesterday that its economy grew 7.4 per cent in the first quarter from a year earlier, just ahead of economist estimates but still the slowest rate of growth in 18 months.
"This slow-growth momentum is likely to extend into the second quarter as the country adjusts to a 'new normal' of moderating growth as the economy enters a new phase of reforms, restructuring and rebalancing," said UOB Economic-Treasury Research.
But it noted that the latest figures should ease some of the worries of a "hard landing".
One regional market that did well was Tokyo, where the Nikkei 225 jumped 3 per cent.