STOCKS NEWS SINGAPORE-Index rises; SingTel at 6-month high

Last Updated: Wed, Feb 13, 2013 07:00 hrs

Singapore shares rallied on Wednesday, with Singapore Telecommunications Ltd at its highest in nearly six-and-half months ahead of its third-quarter earnings on Thursday.

The Strait Times Index was up 0.9 percent to 3,299.53 points, while the MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.8 percent. China, Taiwan and Hong Kong markets remain closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.

SingTel, Southeast Asia's largest telecommunication operator, gained as much as 1.1 percent to S$3.61, the strongest level since early August.

Morgan Stanley advised investors to accumulate SingTel shares as the telco offers a "solid combination of growth and yield", with a price-earnings ratio of 13.8 times. The business environment is improving for all of SingTel's key operating businesses, it added.

Shares of Singapore Airlines Ltd (SIA) underperformed the market, falling as much as 2.6 percent with 928,000 shares traded, 1.3 times the average full-day volume over the past 30 days.

SIA reported last week a slightly weaker-than-expected 6 percent rise in third-quarter net profit as earnings from the sale of aircraft and spares offset losses at its cargo unit, and it warned of tough conditions ahead.

Maybank Kim Eng downgraded the stock to 'sell' from 'hold' and cut its target price to S$10.40 from S$10.50. The broker said SIA's "disappointing" results affirmed its view that airlines, especially full-service carriers, face a very competitive environment with no reprieve in sight.

1402 (0602 GMT)

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