STI jumps 1.6% on upbeat US jobs data

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN) - Gains were led by Jardine, banking counters; regional bourses also have strong showing.

It wasn't quite rocket science to predict that share prices in the local bourse would climb yesterday (Mar 12) after strong gains in Wall Street last Friday (Mar 9) on the back of upbeat jobs data.

The benchmark Straits Times Index rose 54.62 points, or 1.6 per cent, to 3,540.19, taking its cue from US stocks, which rose on February's labour market update. Other regional bourses also had a field day, with key indexes in Japan, China, Hong Kong, Australia and Malaysia starting the week on a strong note.

Retail sales here in January got off to a poor start, but this was attributed to the Chinese New Year effect. Total sales fell 8.4 per cent from January 2017, which was when Chinese New Year was celebrated last year.

The two largest retail stocks by market capitalisation - Sheng Siong Group and Challenger Technologies - closed unchanged while the third largest - Isetan Singapore - fell 20 cents, or 5 per cent, to S$3.75 (US$2.90).

Trade war fears lingered following US President Donald Trump's tariff move, with analysts expecting tension between China and the US to remain the focus in the coming weeks.

"Trade tensions remain a prevalent topic with markets seemingly expecting more to come even as the current episode showed little signs of exacerbating," said IG Markets analyst Jingyi Pan.

About 1.6 billion shares worth S$1.2 billion were done on the local bourse, with gainers outpacing losers 301 to 145. Gains were led by the Jardine counters, banking stocks and Venture Corp.

Boustead Singapore rose 4.5 cents, or nearly 6 per cent, to 80.5 cents and was one of the day's most active with 32 million shares worth S$24 million done. In response to a Singapore Exchange query, Boustead yesterday said a substantial shareholder had expressed his intention to make an exit.

Yoma Strategic Holdings gained 0.5 cent to 44 cents. The Myanmar-focused company said it inked a pact with ride-hailing service Grab for Yoma to upgrade the fleet of taxis in Myanmar and provide vehicle financing for Grab's drivers.

Catalist-listed Jubilee Industries Holdings climbed 0.5 cent, or 13.5 per cent, to 4.2 cents on an announcement that it had raised its stake in Malaysia-listed EG Industries to 13.03 per cent.

Troubled commodities trader Noble Group said it has opted not to pay the coupon on a US$750 million (S$986 million) bond, while adding that it was "very close" to reaching final terms with a group of senior creditors over a proposed debt restructuring. The counter added 3.7 cents, or 27.8 per cent, to 17 cents.


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