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Singapore Stock Market May Re-Test 3,000-Point Mark

The Singapore stock market on Tuesday halted the two-day slide in which it had given away just 8 points or 0.2 percent. The Straits Times Index finished just below the 2,990-point plateau, and now traders are looking for further upside when the market kicks off trade on Wednesday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is broadly upbeat in a positive reaction to U.S. retail sales data, as well as the Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement. Also positive is news that European finance ministers approved a second bailout for Greece worth 130 billion euros. Financials are expected to provide support, along with properties and steel companies. The European and U.S. markets finished firmly higher and the Asian markets are expected to follow suit.

The STI finished modestly higher on Tuesday following gains from the property stocks, financials, plantations and industrials.

For the day, the index jumped 26.89 points or 0.91 percent to finish at 2,989.07 after trading between 2,973.67 and 2,992.82 on volume of 1.30 billion shares. There were 278 gainers and 102 decliners.

Among the gainers, CapitaMalls Asia surged 4.6 percent, while CapitaLand gathered 1.7 percent, United Overseas Bank was up 1.8 percent, Noble Group spiked 1.5 percent, Wilmar International rose 0.8 percent, SembCorp Marine climbed 1.7 percent, Keppel Corp jumped 1.7 percent and Cosco collected 3.1 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is firmly positive as stocks moved sharply higher on Tuesday, breaking out of a recent trading range. The markets benefited from a positive reaction to U.S. retail sales data as well as the Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement.

The rally was sparked by a report from the Commerce Department showing that U.S. retail sales rose by 1.1 percent in February following an upwardly revised 0.6 percent gain in January - in line with forecasts and marking the fastest pace since September. Excluding a 1.6 percent increase in auto sales, sales rose by 0.9 percent in February following a 1.1 percent gain in January.

Stocks accelerated following the Fed's monetary policy announcement, which noted that information received since its January meeting suggests moderate economic expansion - which it expects to continue over the coming quarters, adding that the unemployment rate will decline gradually. While the Fed also reiterated that economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low rates at least through late 2014, there was no hint of quantitative easing.

The markets also benefited from news that European finance ministers approved a second bailout for Greece worth 130 billion euros.

Among individual stocks, shares of Nautilus (NLS) surged 10.2 percent after the fitness products company reported fourth quarter income from continuing operations of $0.11 per share compared to $0.06 per share last year. Meanwhile, Urban Outfitters (URBN) declined after the apparel retailer reported disappointing Q4 results, with shares falling 5.3 percent.

The major averages saw further upside going into the close, ending the session at or near their highs for the day. The Dow jumped 217.97 points or 1.7 percent to finish at 13,177.68, while the NASDAQ added 56.22 points or 0.2 percent to 3,039.88 and the S&P 500 soared 24.87 points or 1.8 percent to end at 1,395.96. With the gains, the NASDAQ reached an eleven-year high, while the Dow reached a four-year high and the S&P 500 reached a three-year high.

by RTT Staff Writer

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