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Asian stocks lift despite new US tariff threats

07 Apr, 2018

Asian stock markets headed higher yesterday, with investors growing increasingly desensitised to the United States-China trade conflict.

The more positive mood came despite President Donald Trump's new threats to slap tariffs on an additional US$100 billion (S$132 billion) of Chinese imports.

US stock index futures tumbled following the latest trade-related development, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling around 300 points. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures also came under pressure.

Despite this, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended up 1.1 per cent as trading resumed after a one-day holiday. Markets in China, Taiwan and Thailand were closed yesterday.

China was defiant in response to the threat of fresh tariffs.

"If the US side disregards opposition from China and the international community and insists on carrying out unilateralism and trade protectionism, the Chinese side will take (it) on until the end at any cost," its Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.

Mr Alex Wong, a director at Ample Finance Group, said: "Instead of reacting to the ongoing dispute every minute, investors were reshuffling their portfolios to sectors that were less sensitive or even immune to the dispute."

AXA Investment Managers Asia said that the market reaction to protectionist announcements seems overdone, compared with their intrinsic impact, assuming that there is no escalation.

"The level of relative volatility across asset classes is close to historical highs signalling upside for equities. We remain comfortable with the overweight in equities overall."

After opening at 3,392.76 points, the Straits Times Index (STI) ended at 3,442.50, up 36.85 points, or 1.08 per cent. Around two billion shares worth $1.4 billion changed hands. There were 197 gainers to 225 losers.

With better casino odds projected, Genting Singapore trudged higher to $1.14, up 5.5 per cent, or six cents, in active trade of more than 92.3 million shares.

CGS-CIMB said the market has overly discounted the company despite its improved margins and balance sheet prowess.

The research house also believes there is a high chance Genting Singapore may raise its dividend again.

It surprised the market with an all-time high dividend of 3.5 cents a share for the 2017 financial year.

"We think Genting Singapore is on better footing now, as the environment for the Singapore VIP and Genting Singapore's mass market has improved," said CGS-CIMB, which has a target price of $1.40 for the counter.

Adapted from: The Straits Times, 7 Apr 2018