Feb 18, 2014

    STI surges as investors see only good stuff

    LOCAL shares rose in league with other Asian bourses yesterday, partly buoyed by Friday's encouraging gains on Wall Street.

    The Straits Times Index (STI) was one of the strongest performers across the region, surging 30.57 points, or 1.01 per cent, to 3,069.28.

    Investors were encouraged by the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which added 0.8 per cent on Friday while the S&P 500 climbed 0.5 per cent, capping the best weekly gains for the year.

    Wall Street's upbeat performance was spurred by strong corporate earnings news, which investors have chosen to focus on, instead of some weak macro data.

    "Despite the spate of disappointments, investors seem to be shrugging off the bad data - a consumer sentiment report revealed the average consumer feeling more optimistic about the (United States) economic outlook," said CMC Markets analyst Desmond Chua.

    News that Japan's economy grew less than expected in the final quarter of last year also failed to dampen sentiments.

    Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.6 per cent in a day of choppy trading, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong climbed just over 1 per cent. China's Shanghai Composite advanced nearly 1 per cent, while South Korea's Kospi rose 0.3 per cent.

    About 2.55 billion shares worth $1.03 billion were traded here, with gainers trouncing losers 275 to 125 while 383 counters were unchanged.

    Banking stocks led the gains on the local bourse after reporting quarterly earnings on Friday.

    Maybank Kim Eng Research described them as a mixed bag, although the research house pointed out that broad trends, such as higher net interest margin, strong credit quality and better-than-expected loan growth, were "unmistakably encouraging".

    UOB jumped 51 cents, or 2.6 per cent, to $20.41; DBS Group Holdings gained 11 cents, or 0.7 per cent, to $16.59; and OCBC rose eight cents, or 0.9 per cent, to $9.46.

    Global Logistic Properties gained three cents, or 1 per cent, to $2.83. The company reported a 56 per cent increase in third-quarter net profit despite a slight dip in revenue.

    Stronger leasing demand in China and asset recycling are potential catalysts for the stock, said CIMB Research.

    "This week, the release of the Fed minutes will be dissected for forward guidance," said Ms Kelly Teoh, market strategist at IG Markets.

    Traders will also be on the lookout for the flash estimates of China's manufacturing data for February, due out later in the week.

    This should provide a clue as to how the world's second-largest economy is faring after a contraction last month shook global markets, said Ms Teoh.