Surging Covid cases globally send medical supplier stocks higher in Singapore

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Latex gloves are filled with water in a watertight test room at a Top Glove factory in Selangor, Malaysia, on Dec. 3, 2015.
Charles Pertwee | Bloomberg | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Shares of several medical suppliers in Singapore have jumped this month, coinciding with a renewed surge in daily global Covid-19 infections.

Singapore-listed shares of Top Glove, the world’s largest medical glove maker, have risen 18.4% as of Thursday from its March 31 close. The company’s shares in Malaysia, where it’s based, jumped 24.3% in the same period.

Other medical supplier stocks in Singapore that have surged this month include:

These stocks have all outperformed the benchmark Straits Times Index, which inched 0.7% higher between March 31 and Thursday. They have also been among the 100 most traded stocks in the Singapore market this year, Geoff Howie, market strategist at the Singapore Exchange, told CNBC in an email. 

Howie said a resurgence in daily confirmed Covid-19 cases and concerns about vaccine safety may have driven investors’ interests in those stocks.

Globally, the seven-day moving average of daily reported Covid cases reached a record high of more than 797,500 on Wednesday, according CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. A major contributor of the increase is a surge in daily reported cases in India, the data showed.

A moving average smooths out big spikes and slumps in the daily data that could be caused by availability of tests or frequency of reporting.

Cumulatively, coronavirus cases globally reached more than 143 million cases with around 3 million deaths as of Wednesday, Hopkins data showed. 

The jump in cases have also come as Covid vaccination progress varies widely between rich and poor countries, which the World Health Organization has described as a “shocking imbalance.”   

Ben May, director of global macro research at consultancy Oxford Economics, said the recent rise in Covid infections is “clearly a huge public health concern” — but it’s not yet weighing down the global economy.

“For now, it seems that the rise in cases may partially reflect a growing desire from governments and individuals to get back to normal. If this is the case, higher case numbers may not necessarily signal weaker activity to come,” he wrote in a Monday report.

But May added that the economic outlook could become more uncertain if the jump in Covid infections derails further attempts to reopen economies or leads to greater voluntary social distancing among people.

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