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Singapore edges out Vietnam as Asia's top stock market


THERE'S been lots of competition for the title of Asia's best-performing stock market this year. Among the major equity indexes in the region, eight have climbed to records in the first four months alone.

On Wednesday, Singapore's Straits Times Index nudged higher, boosting this year's gain to 6.2 per cent in local currency terms, and took the top spot from Vietnam's VN Index, which plunged 2 per cent.

The city-state has its three big banks to thank for clinching the top spot across all major equity markets in the continent. On April 30, DBS Group Holdings Ltdreported quarterly profit that beat analyst estimates . Rivals United Overseas Bank Ltd and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp report in the coming days, and could fuel further gains in the Straits Times Index. "Singapore's stock market is very much a reflection of its open economy," Edward Lim, chief investment officer of Covenant Capital Pte in Singapore, said by phone.

Meanwhile, Vietnam's benchmark index has been paring advances after a 43 per cent surge in the past year. The VN Index has fallen 14 per cent from a record high on April 9, as investors take profit and as a spate of local share sales curbed gains.

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Two of the markets which climbed to records this year - the Philippines and Indonesia - are now among the worst performers of 2018.

Even so, some investors aren't convinced that Singapore will remain the best stock market in the region. "Valuations are actually stretched. If you look at other Asian markets, China still remains our top pick," Covenant's Mr Lim said. BLOOMBERG

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