Jan 16, 2014

    Upbeat US data ends STI losing streak

    WALL Street's upbeat performance overnight allowed the local market to break its four-day losing streak.

    The benchmark Straits Times Index rose 19.5 points or 0.6 per cent to 3,143.25, after losing about 27 points or 0.9 per cent since last Thursday.

    But trading volumes stayed thin - only 3.42 billion shares worth $1.03 billion changed hands - signalling that traders remain cautious.

    The buoyant retail data in the United States that drove Wall Street higher on Tuesday night delivered gains on other Asian bourses as well. The Nikkei 225 in Japan rose 2.5 per cent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.5 per cent and the ASX 200 in Australia climbed 0.6 per cent.

    On the home front, the Jardine stocks led the gains.

    Jardine Cycle & Carriage rose $1.82 or 4.8 per cent to $39.40, Jardine Strategic Holdings gained 91 US cents or 2.75 per cent to US$34 and Jardine Matheson Holdings climbed US$1.38 or 2.5 per cent to US$55.87.

    The gains in these three counters bolstered the STI by about 10 index points.

    Other gainers included CapitaMall Trust, up 2.5 cents or 1.4 per cent to $1.88, and Singapore Exchange, up nine cents or 1.3 per cent to $7.12.

    UOL Group lost six cents or nearly 1 per cent to $5.98. The firm said its wholly owned UOL Overseas Investment secured the tender for a residential site in Upper Paya Lebar Road for $392.3 million.

    UOL is one of Nomura Research's top picks in the property sector, alongside Ascendas Reit, CapitaMalls Asia, CapitaMall Trust and Wing Tai Holdings.

    The property sector has been hit by some gloomy data lately, the latest coming yesterday.

    Sales of new homes tumbled by nearly 80 per cent last month from November, due to cooling measures and wary developers holding back launches.

    Nomura highlighted possible surprises for the sector this year, including a faster-than-expected pace of decline in home prices and a relaxation of cooling measures that may not be sufficient to address price falls.

    JES International was one of the top actives with 224 million shares done. The counter extended gains by two cents or 11 per cent to 20 cents on news that a mining firm it was investing in was estimated to have 4.2 billion tonnes in resources.

    MTQ Corp gained 1.5 cents or 1 per cent to $1.475. The oil-equipment specialist said it is acquiring Binder Group - an Australian firm specialising in pipe supports for the oil-and-gas sector - for A$19.3 million (S$21.9 million).