China and US news fails to lift market
The Straits Times
LISTLESS trading here yesterday contrasted with strong showings by some regional markets, which were spurred on by China's broad-based reform plans.
An upbeat closing on Wall Street on Friday, fuelled by Federal Reserve chief-nominee Janet Yellen's dovish stance suggesting that US stimulus will stay at least into early next year, did little to ignite the local market.
Even feel-good news at home that Singapore exports rose unexpectedly last month after an eight-month losing streak, marking an improvement in global demand, failed to excite the market.
The benchmark Straits Times Index closed marginally higher by 1.76 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 3,203.03.
China's plans to liberalise its policies to lift a slowing economy sparked a 2.9 per cent surge in the Shanghai Composite. Hong Kong also powered ahead as the Hang Seng jumped 2.7 per cent.
The performance across Asia was mixed, with Japan's Nikkei 225 falling marginally by 0.01 per cent and Australia's ASX 200 retreating 0.3 per cent.
In a report titled Asian Equities In 2014, HSBC Global Research said it expects the Singapore market to struggle with property cooling, a tightening monetary stance and foreign-labour constraints.
While Singapore is a stable market with low earnings volatility and a high dividend yield, the research house said it is difficult to get excited about the key sectors of the index.
Trading was thin, with 2.39 billion shares worth $916.9 million done. Losers outpaced gainers 203 to 174, and 421 counters were unchanged.
Gains were led by Noble Group, which climbed 3.5 cents or 3.4 per cent to $1.075. CapitaMalls Asia gained five cents or 2.5 per cent to $2.08.
Penny stock KLW Holdings hogged the spotlight, jumping 0.9 cents or 36 per cent to 3.4 cents. The counter was most actively traded, with 799 million shares worth $26 million done. KLW announced on Friday that Brunei's Prince Abdul Qawi will acquire a 17 per cent stake in the firm, which provides recycled wood for doors and flooring.
Suntec Reit rose two cents or 1.3 per cent to $1.585. It announced its first foray into Australia involving a purchase of a Sydney freehold property for A$413.19 million (S$484 million).
Midas Holdings gained 0.5 cent or 1 per cent to 50 cents. Its latest quarterly results, swinging into the black, signal that recovery is under way for the maker of aluminium parts for trains.
Shares of the battered trio Asiasons Capital, Liongold Corp and Blumont Group fell between 2 per cent and 7 per cent. Blumont announced that its non-executive independent director Ng Su Ling has stepped down.