Nov 25, 2015

    STI rebounds largely thanks to banks

    LOCAL shares made a slight comeback yesterday, as anxiety eased over the December interest rate hike in the United States.

    The Straits Times Index (STI) added 20 points, or 0.69 per cent, to close at 2,923.49.

    Overall trade remained weak, coming in at 1.29 billion units worth $825.2 million.

    Markets across the region were a mixed bag, with Tokyo climbing 0.2 per cent on its reopening after a public holiday while Hong Kong slipped 0.3 per cent, dragged down by multi-year lows in resource shares.

    "The commodity sector is really being hit hard, primarily by global growth concerns but also the oversupply issue," Yogesh Dewan, founder and chief executive of Hassium Asset Management, told Bloomberg TV. "The market has been cautious."

    Shanghai advanced 0.2 per cent, despite wiping out early gains in late trading.

    Seoul gained 0.6 per cent, Sydney lost 0.9 per cent, Jakarta added 0.1 per cent and Kuala Lumpur rose 0.4 per cent.

    Market watchers believe trade will stay tepid all week, with markets subdued ahead of the US Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow. Wall Street had dipped 0.2 per cent overnight, paring earlier gains.

    The STI yesterday was lifted largely by rallies in the three local banks. DBS Group Holdings grew 13 cents or 0.8 per cent to $16.91, United Overseas Bank rose 12 cents or 0.6 per cent to $19.89, and OCBC Bank put on four cents or 0.5 per cent to $8.86.

    Casino operator Genting Singapore was also one of the biggest winners, jumping 4.5 cents or 6 per cent to 79.5 cents, while shipbuilder Yangzijiang Shipbuilding added 2.5 cents or 2.2 per cent to $1.14.

    Container shipping firm Neptune Orient Lines continued to make strides, rising two cents or 1.7 per cent to $1.19. The firm said that it was in exclusive talks with France's CMA CGM, the world's third largest shipping liner, over a possible buyout.

    The stock is up 41.7 per cent so far this year, driven in part by acquisition talks.

    Meanwhile, commodity trader Noble Group slid half a cent or 1.2 per cent to 40.5 cents, after Standard & Poor's joined Moody's Investors Service in reviewing the firm's ratings amid concern about its liquidity.

    This comes as the sector continues to be hit by the weakness in commodity prices.