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A Good Start After Lunar New Year Break

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US stocks moved higher on persisting optimism around the trade talk, after President Trump said that he would allow for flexibility to delay the trade-deal deadline if both sides are making sufficient progress. Furthermore, Trump indicated that he would still like to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping soon in an effort to put an end to the trade war. Meanwhile, Trump reassured market participants that a second government shutdown was unlikely even though he was unhappy with the tentative agreement. Over the last three weeks, Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 3.5 percent closing at 25,439.39.

Correspondingly, China equities surged on hopes that the trade talk can achieve breakthrough, after the market re-opened from a one-week long Lunar New Year holiday. Overall Shanghai Composite Index jumped 3.1 percent to 2,682.39 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 3.2 percent to end at 27,900.84.

Turning our attention to the local bourse, analysts are generally expecting the three local banks to report record full year 2018 earnings in their upcoming 4Q results, amidst modest loan growth and higher net interest margins in line with the global rate hikes while announcements of higher dividend payouts are also eagerly anticipated. DBS is slated to release its results on 18 February 2019, followed by OCBC and UOB on 22 February 2019. Meantime, telco Starhub’s 4Q18 net profit slumped 61.8 percent and guided a much reduced FY19 dividend of at least $0.09 while Singtel and SIA both reported lower earnings.

Other than that, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat will be delivering Singapore’s 2019 Budget Statement on 18 February 2019. Topics to be discussed during the Budget speech will be key matters that the public is closely looking out for.

Last three weeks, Straits Times Index grew 1.2 percent to finish at 3,239.74.

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