IT was a somewhat lethargic session on the market, though key indices climbed towards the later part of the afternoon amid a tick-up in New York futures and a positive opening on European markets.
After drifting sidewards for much of the day, the Straits Times Index ended the session 7.63 points higher at 3,008.21, supported by SingTel, DBS and OCBC Bank.
DBS gained 14 cents to $13.65 as the market started coming to terms with the Danamon Bank purchase deal, which had earlier caused consternation in some circles.
On the actives list, JEL Corp continued to power ahead, gaining half a cent to 4.5 cents on 241 million shares, amid expectations that "Popiah King" Sam Goi's emergence as its controlling shareholder with 58 per cent portends better times ahead for the troubled company.
Also in the limelight was UPP, which rose 6 cents to a new year-high of 39.5 cents amid reports that Malaysian tycoon Tong Kooi Ong was poised to take over at the company's helm as CEO next month. Mr Tong is the second-biggest shareholder in UPP with a 26 per cent stake, after his close friend and Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim who controls 31 per cent.
Market insiders said the stock was also buoyed by speculation that the well-connected Mr Tong was poised to lead UPP into Myanmar's forestry industry.
Myanmar has become an important theme driving several counters amid rapid and unexpected political liberalisation in that country, which has prompted developed nations to remove restrictive economic sanctions on it. The latest was Japan, which yesterday reportedly plans to waive Myanmar's 300 billion yen (S$4.6 billion) debt and resume suspended assistance to the country.
Meanwhile, the European Union agreed in principle to suspend all sanctions against Myanmar, with the exception of arms.
Yoma Strategic, Interra Resources and Sin Heng Heavy Machinery have all powered up in recent days on the Myanmar story.
Perennial China Retail Trust was also in play after Wilmar International's billionaire founder Kuok Khoon Hong trebled his stake to 17 per cent, replacing Chinese businessman Tong Jinquan, whose 15 per cent stake he bought for $60 million. The stock gained 3.5 cents to 53 cents.
Keppel Land (KepLand) gained 6 cents to $3.40 after it reported Q1 net income of $141.9 million, following the completion of several projects/ phases in Singapore and China. But analysts were generally cautious about the stock's upside prospects, citing "macro risks" in the property markets here and in China.
"Post the strong share price re-rating year to date, we are neutral on KepLand, with target price $3.53 with the view that further sustained upward re-rating from current levels is unlikely due to ongoing uncertainty regarding its asset allocation and its current interim status as a Singapore and China residential developer experiencing policy headwinds in both markets," said OSK-DMG. But it added that KepLand was well positioned for capital deployment healthy balance sheet with low gearing.
Going forward, the situational and news-driven rotational theme is expected to continue driving interest.