Singapore, regional markets close higher as investors shrug off virus fears

DESPITE a rise in Covid-19 cases across multiple countries, Asian markets ended Thursday on a more cheery note, as traders' sentiments were fuelled by the beginning of the corporate earnings season.

In Singapore, the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) rose 1.3 per cent or 40.26 points to finish at 3,159.26. Across the broader market, advancers outnumbered decliners 304 to 195, with 1.34 billion securities worth some S$1.29 billion having changed hands.

Optimism was also evident in other markets in the region. The KLCI rose 0.7 per cent; the Kospi added 1.1 per cent, and the Hang Seng Index gained 1.8 per cent.

Singapore Exchange market strategist Geoff Howie noted that this was due to a "rotation into equities" across Asia, which began late on Wednesday, and powered through Thursday. He noted that some sectors have been clear winners.

"This week, global earnings reports have had a role in shaping broad economic sentiment, which has edged more positive since late Wednesday with the US dollar and US Treasuries declining, while crude oil has gained with the energy, financial and technology sectors leading global equities," he said.

On the local bourse, Jardine Matheson Holdings was the top advancer for the day. The counter closed at US$62.20, up 1.1 per cent or US$0.70.

The trio of lenders also booked some of the biggest gains. DBS added 1.8 per cent or S$0.52 to S$30.20; UOB gained 1.1 per cent or S$0.29 to S$25.92, while OCBC rose 1.9 per cent or S$0.22 to S$12.12.

Aviation-related stocks, too, enjoyed a lift. Singapore Airlines advanced 3.1 per cent or S$0.15 to S$4.95; Sats rose 2.4 per cent or S$0.09 to S$3.87.

Property company PropNex was one of the biggest decliners. The counter closed at S$1.89, down 4.1 per cent or S$0.08.

A few of the Singapore-listed glove makers were also among the top losers on Thursday. Riverstone fell 1.5 per cent or S$0.02 to S$1.31, UGHealthcare slipped 2.4 per cent or 1.5 Singapore cents to 60.5 cents.

Abundance International was the most actively traded counter by volume, with 238.1 million shares changing hands over the course of the day. The stock closed at 4.3 Singapore cents on Thursday, up 48.3 per cent or 1.4 cent.

Other heavily traded counters included Sembcorp Marine, CapitaLand and Singtel.

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