STI nearly flat; SembMarine jumps as oil prices cross US$50

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) – Singapore’s benchmark Straits Times Index ended at 2,863.01 on Wednesday, just 3.33 points or 0.12 per cent higher than a day ago, in its response to the run-offs for two seats in the United States Senate in the state of Georgia and the jump in oil prices.

Some 2.37 billion securities worth S$1.29 billion changed hands, with advancers outnumbering decliners 299 to 166.

Top index performer, conglomerate Sembcorp Industries, added S$0.05 or 2.91 per cent to S$1.77. This was as analysts anticipated the out-performance of US infrastructure plays in mining, construction and renewables – in response to an expected “blue sweep” scenario.

The Singapore Exchange was the worst performer, declining S$0.10 or 1.03 per cent to S$9.60, correcting from exuberant gains recorded on Monday on possible profit-taking.

The most active counter of the day was Sembcorp Marine – for the third consecutive day. It gained S$0.012 or 8 per cent to S$0.162, on a volume of 416.4 million, more than triple its trading volume on Tuesday.

This was likely in response to the oil price rally to above US$50 per barrel. Terence Chua, an analyst at Phillip Securities Research, said that investors are also likely still expecting a merger announcement with Keppel’s offshore and marine unit by mid-January.

Axi chief global market strategist Stephen Innes noted that Saudi Arabia’s additional voluntary cuts of oil production for February and March, explained as a gesture of goodwill to accelerate global oil inventories’ draw-down, was a clear near-term positive for oil.

This was the first time WTI crude oil prices crossed the US$50-a-barrel mark since February 2020.

Regional indices finished mixed.

The Hang Seng Index gained 0.15 per cent, the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.63 per cent, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 extended losses, declining 0.38 per cent; Malaysia’s KLCI shed 1.02 per cent.

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