Singapore Stocks: Banks, Cosco, Noble, Stats Chippac, SGX

Singapore's Straits Times Index (FSSTI) rose 88.31, or 2.8 percent, to 3,236.10, closing at its highest since Jan. 11. The benchmark index advanced 1.5 percent this week, its second weekly gain.

About 1.48 billion shares changed hands, compared with the daily average of 2.46 billion shares in the past year.

Banks: United Overseas Bank (UOB) advanced 90 cents, or 4.4 percent, to S$21.30, its highest since Oct. 31. The stock led gainers on the 30-member Straits Times Index in terms of points. DBS Group Holdings Ltd. (DBS) , Southeast Asia's largest lender, rose 38 Singapore cents, or 1.9 percent, to S$20.24, its highest since Jan. 9. Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. (OCBC) , the smallest of the city-state's three banks, gained 15 cents, or 1.7 percent, to S$9.00.

Singapore lenders tracked gains of financial stocks in the U.S. amid expectations that ``the worst is over'' in credit markets, David Lum, an analyst at Daiwa Institute of Research Singapore Pte, said by phone today. There will likely be ``no negative surprises'' ahead of the banks' first-quarter earnings announcements next week, said Lum, who has an ``outperform'' rating on the banks.

China Oilfield Technology Services Group Ltd. (COT) , fell 3.5 Singapore cents, or 8.1 percent, to 39.5 cents, dropping the most since Jan. 22. The provider of services used in the drilling of crude oil said it expects to incur a loss in the first quarter.

Cosco Corp. Singapore Ltd. (COS) , the shipbuilding and repair unit of China's biggest marine line, advanced 21 cents, or 6.7 percent, to S$3.37, advancing the most since April 21. The company said first-quarter profit doubled to S$83.9 million ($62 million) on demand for new vessels and ship-conversions, the biggest increase in more than two years.

FerroChina Ltd. (FRC SP), a China-based maker of galvanized steel coils, rose 14 cents, or 9.9 percent, to S$1.56, gaining the most since March 11. FerroChina attracted interest from Australia's BlueScope Steel Ltd. and Russian companies, including Evraz Group, for the sale of a 20 percent stake in the coiled-steel maker, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported, without saying where it got the information.

Jardine Cycle & Carriage Ltd. (JCNC) , Singapore's biggest car-seller by market value, added 50 cents, or 3 percent, to S$17.12, the biggest advance since March 26. The company said its first-quarter profit rose 65 percent from a year earlier to $128 million on increased consumer demand in Indonesia and higher palm oil prices. Jardine partly owns Indonesia's PT Astra International, whose unit PT Astra Agro Lestari is Indonesia's largest publicly traded agriculture company.

Singapore Exchange Ltd. (SGX) , the operator of the city- state's securities and derivatives markets, also known as SGX, rose 71 cents, or 8.3 percent, to S$9.30, its highest since Feb. 19. The stock is the best performer on the Straits Times Index. The overall pessimism that trading volumes will slow ``is uncalled for,'' Kenneth Ng, an analyst at CIMB-GK Securities Pte said by phone. He has an ``outperform'' on SGX with a target price of S$10.58.

Noble Group Ltd. (NOBL) , a Hong Kong-based supplier of raw materials, rose 17 cents, or 7.6 percent, to S$2.40. Gloucester Coal Ltd. (GCL AU), an Australian producer of the fuel, on May 1 said it made a ``significant'' new coking coal discovery in the Gloucester Basin in New South Wales state.

Noble owns 19.7 percent of Gloucester Coal, according to Bloomberg data.

Singapore Post Ltd. (SPOST) dropped 1 cent, or 0.9 percent, to S$1.15, the first decline in four days. The city- state's biggest postal service said its fourth-quarter profit dropped 11 percent to S$34.5 million from a year earlier.

SMRT Corp. (MRT) , Singapore's biggest subway operator added 3 cents, or 1.7 percent, to S$1.83, its highest since July 18 last year. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. raised its share-price target to S$1.95 from S$1.75 and kept its ``neutral'' recommendation on SMRT. Goldman Sachs is positive on the long- term growth of SMRT, adding investors should accumulate on any weakness, analyst Yoke Fong Chee said in a report today.

Stats Chippac Ltd. (STAT) , Southeast Asia's largest semiconductor tester and packager, advanced 13 cents, or 12 percent, to S$1.26, the biggest gain since March 1 last year.

U.S. stocks rose yesterday to the highest level since January, partly due to better-than-estimated earnings at technology companies. The U.S. contributed about three-quarters to Stats Chippac's sales in the first quarter, according to the company's earnings statement.

Global semiconductor sales rose 3.8 percent in the first quarter as consumers bought more electronic devices, the San Jose, California-based Semiconductor Industry Association said on May 1. The association said it was ``optimistic'' for full- year sales.

Suntec Real Estate Investment Trust (SUN) , one of Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing's two property trusts in Singapore, gained 6 cents, or 4 percent, to S$1.57, advancing the most since Jan. 24. The company said it will distribute 2.52 cents a share for the three months ended March 31, 26 percent higher than the 2 cents a share in the year-earlier period.

To contact the reporter for this story: Katherine Espina in Singapore at kespina@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nicolas Johnson at nicojohnson@bloomberg.net

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