IT'S been a week largely within expectations with the Straits Times Index undergoing a volatile five days, with companies reporting a mixed bag of results and with rising oil prices replacing Greece as the market's main source of concern.
Starting with Monday, the STI's movements this week were down 31, up 23, up 24, down 16 and up 14.65 yesterday. The nett gain was 15 points at a final reading of 2,993.49.
Observers described these movements as typical of a market that is consolidating as it searches for direction. The same might be said for most other markets, with Wall Street and Europe also recording movements this week that suggest no real direction.
Turnover has dwindled from the previous week when it regularly crossed $2 billion; this week's average was closer to $1.3 billion. The week's lowest volume was recorded yesterday when 1.5 billion units worth $1.1 billion were traded, excluding foreign currency issues.
Once again, most of the volume was focused on low-priced issues - mobile phone company MDR, for example, whose shares cost just under one cent each, was in focus because it reported its first ever dividend after nine profitable quarters.
Indonesian coal mine play United Fiber saw its shares enjoying active play but dropping from 6.2 to 5.4 cents over the week while abalone breeder Oceanus, which reported a 2011 loss of 1.17 billion yuan, saw its shares slide from 10.4 to 8.9 cents. Oceanus this week said an internal probe suggests that poor nutrition could have caused the death of millions of abalone which in turn contributed to the poor financial performance.
Genting Singapore fell 2.5 cents over the week to $1.61. The casino operator announced that it received $6 billion in applications for its novel perpetual bond issue but only issued $1.8 billion. Analysts say that although the instrument is described as a 'bond', it more closely resembles a preference share.
Over in the property sector, City Developments Ltd (CDL) reported a 32 per cent drop in fourth quarter profit to $163 million. This led to analysts downgrading the stock, among them DMG Research. 'We remain less sanguine on the lack of breadth of recent residential transaction volume and expect a slowdown moving forward, further reports of strong headline sales moving forward may heighten policy risks, and CDL would also unlikely be a beneficiary of any potential policy in China easing due to its current low China exposure,' said the broker in a Thursday report.
'As such we believe any further sustained re-rating would be limited and maintain our SELL call and target price of $7.98.' Over the week, CDL dropped 13 cents to $11.10.
In its March 1 Singapore Equity Strategy, Credit Suisse said it recently upgraded its target for the MSCI Asia ex Japan and with that upgrade has raised its STI target from 3,038 to 3,400.
'We do note that even with this 13 per cent upside, price-to-book for Singapore rises from the current 1.49x to 1.68x versus its historical average of 1.75x since 2000,' said CS.
'As with other markets, there is a fairly good fit between the STI and US jobless claims which are our proxy for global/US growth. This relationship also suggests potential upside for the STI towards 3,300-3,400. Singapore is also seeing a slowing in the rate of downgrades to 2012E consensus EPS.'