Jun 03, 2014

    STI inches up as traders play waiting game

    SINGAPORE shares made slight gains in their opening session for this month yesterday, as traders await employment data from the United States on Friday evening.

    Investors are also watching closely for any easing of monetary policy that may come out of a European Central Bank (ECB) meeting on Thursday.

    The cautious mood here led the benchmark Straits Times Index to rise just 6.39 points, or 0.19 per cent, to 3,302.24.

    It was quite a different picture in Tokyo, where shares surged 2.07 per cent to a two-month high.

    Observers credited the buoyant mood to Wall Street's record close on Friday and a depreciation of the yen against the US dollar, which is always good news for Japanese exporters.

    "The mood in global markets - improved, on the whole - aided in the monthly rise of global indices, with US indices gaining close to 2 per cent last month," noted CMC Markets analyst Desmond Chua.

    "This week will be one to watch, with US non-farm payrolls and ECB interest rates among the most important releases."

    Elsewhere in the region, Seoul was up 0.35 per cent and Sydney rose 0.47 per cent.

    Hong Kong and Shanghai were closed for a public holiday.

    At home, oil and gas counters were mixed as oil prices climbed yesterday. OCBC Investment Research released a report saying that, with increasing protectionism, companies which are able to operate in foreign markets by "satisfying local content requirements" should be in a better position to grow over the longer term.

    "We favour companies with good market positioning and strong balance sheets," wrote analyst Low Pei Han, who cited Keppel Corp, Nam Cheong and Ezion Holdings as top picks.

    Keppel rose four cents to $10.67, Nam Cheong was unchanged at 39 cents and Ezion slid three cents to $2.17.

    Meanwhile, Sembcorp Marine lost a cent to $4.11 and Pacific Radiance gained 0.5 cent to $1.225.

    SingTel was flat at $3.90. Maybank Kim Eng Research yesterday reiterated its "buy" call on the telco, saying that Alibaba's investment in SingPost, an associate company of SingTel, will help to raise SingTel's valuation.

    Courts Asia gained half a cent to 58.5 cents after CIMB Research upgraded its rating on the stock to "add".

    Analyst Kenneth Ng wrote in a note on Friday that he believes the firm will see a gradual recovery amid tough markets, as business has been turning around in Malaysia and Indonesia.