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Singapore shares close higher with Noble, Yeo Hiap Seng in focus during the week

A SURGE in volume on Tuesday most probably because of month-end window-dressing, a play on food and beverage stocks led by Yeo Hiap Seng, and a focus on Noble Group after its chief executive officer resigned early in the week and the company on Friday announced a rights issue - these were the main features of interest for the past week during which the Straits Times Index (STI) managed a seven-point rise to 2,809.23.

The burst of interest on Tuesday took turnover that day to S$2 billion and involved mainly the banks and other large index stocks. The STI that day rose 38 points but lost all of this by the end of the session as traders focused on weakness in the Dow futures and Europe. Daily business since then has dropped drastically - on Friday when the STI rose 14.14 points, only 962 million units worth S$741 million was done.

Yeo Hiap Seng's meteoric jump of S$0.275 or 21 per cent to S$1.56 from Monday to Thursday was accompanied by a query from the Singapore Exchange (SGX), to which YHS replied that it did not know why its shares were in play.

In today's market if a stock was to surge as YHS did, the inevitable speculation is of an impending takeover-privatisation-delisting and this was the case with YHS.

Commodities firm Noble early in the week announced the resignation of its CEO Yusuf Alireza for family reasons and the appointment of two co-CEOs, followed by a US$500 million one-for-one rights issue on Friday at S$0.11 per share, a 63.3 per cent discount to Noble's closing price of S$0.30 on Thursday. The stock collapsed S$0.04 on Friday to a 52-week low of S$0.26.

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