Local shares up with focus on blue chips

Local shares up with focus on blue chips

Selected buying of blue chips helped the local stock market to avoid falling in the red yesterday.

The Straits Times Index ended the day 16.2 points or 0.5 per cent ahead at 3,434.24.

"Although the index is higher, it is only because of the focus on blue chips, noticeably ComfortDelGro, likely because of expectations of higher earnings," remisier Alvin Yong said.

Singapore rose along with Shanghai, which surged 1.5 per cent on hopes that the Chinese government could see more monetary stimulus measures.

Inflation in China fell to 0.8 per cent last month - its lowest level since November 2009 - sparking hopes that the central bank could act to prevent deflation.

"There is some speculation that China could cut interest rates, but it's too early to say, since they just lowered the reserve requirement ratio last week," said Mr Yong.

Other Asian bourses were weaker due to concerns about whether Greece will leave the euro zone. Tokyo lost 0.3 per cent, Seoul dropped 0.6 per cent while Hong Kong was flat.

The top gainers here included transport play ComfortDelGro, which rose 15 cents to $3.09. It is slated to report full-year earnings after markets close today.

Other winners were Jardine Matheson, which rose US$1.33 to US$66.23, and Jardine Strategic, up 33 US cents to US$35.62.

DBS Bank shrugged off early dips to end up five cents higher to $19.50 after reporting that fourth-quarter net profit rose 4 per cent to $838 million, excluding one-time items. This was below market expectations of a $973 million rise.

Analysts were mostly encouraged by DBS' performance.

Nomura analyst Jaj Singh noted: "We are impressed by the improvement in loan growth and NIM (net interest margin). With short- term interest rates starting to move up, we believe this bodes well for DBS, as it offers the bank strong operating leverage."

OCBC Bank dipped a cent to $10.60, while United Overseas Bank fell four cents to $23.48. OCBC will report its results before markets open today, while UOB will announce its earnings on Friday.

Valuetronics gained two cents to 40.5 cents, after it reported before markets opened yesterday that its third-quarter net profit rose 10.3 per cent to HK$39.2 million.

Materials stocks were mixed after a Singapore Exchange My Gateway report noted that the five largest players averaged a total return of 4.9 per cent in the first five weeks.

Straits Trading rose five cents to $2.99, NSL lost half a cent to $1.605, XinRen Aluminium was up half a cent to 45.5 cents, Midas was flat at 32 cents and Sunvic Chemical dipped half a cent to 46 cents.

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