Jul 16, 2015

    STI rises on Greek-bailout hopes

    EXPECTATIONS that the Greek Parliament will approve a controversial bailout deal to save the country from collapsing into economic chaos helped lift Singapore shares yesterday.

    The benchmark Straits Times Index rose 22.36 points to 3,338.86, with 1.22 billion shares worth $807.1 million traded.

    "Punters are betting on the Greek Parliament approving the deal, no matter how unpopular it is," a remisier said.

    Blue-chip counters DBS Bank, OCBC Bank and United Overseas Bank (UOB) got a fillip ahead of testimony from United States Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen on the direction of monetary policy, with expectations for an interest rate hike by September.

    DBS rose 0.7 per cent or 15 cents to $21.20, UOB gained 1.1 per cent or 26 cents to $23.22, and OCBC edged up 0.2 per cent or two cents to $10.20.

    Last week, Dr Yellen said that the Fed was looking to lift rates by year end, but an unexpected drop in US retail sales last month raised concerns that the world's biggest economy may be slowing.

    Meanwhile, Chinese equities continued to retreat despite better-than-expected economic growth of 7 per cent in the second quarter from a year earlier, beating estimates for a 6.8 per cent increase. Shanghai fell 3.03 per cent, Shenzhen slipped 4.22 per cent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.26 per cent.

    "This suggests investors are not convinced that we have seen an end to slowing growth. Chinese equities are entering a period of consolidation in the coming months, as market participants adjust to the slew of measures as well as the imminent withdrawal of such measures," IG market strategist Bernard Aw noted.

    Elsewhere in Asia, Japan gained 0.38 per cent, Taiwan rose 0.14 per cent and South Korea was up 0.66 per cent.

    In Singapore, speculation that CEFC International may enter into joint ventures continued to fuel the penny play. It was the most actively traded counter yesterday, soaring 35 per cent or 2.2 cents to 8.4 cents, with 134 million shares traded.

    Nightclub operator Lifebrandz requested a trading halt yesterday, pending the release of an announcement.

    The company had announced last week that it has entered into preliminary discussions with a third party, in connection with a "very substantial acquisition or reverse takeover", although no definitive agreements have been reached.