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Singapore: Hong Kong's rally, penny stocks and Noble are main features

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THERE were three main features worthy of talking about in the past week - Hong Kong's massive outperformance which has led to more than the usual envious glance from local players, a sudden resurgence of interest in micro-penny stocks after more than a year of no interest and a second short-selling attack on Noble Group in three months, this time by well-known short seller Muddy Waters.

The play on Hong Kong came because the market there was closed for three days because of Easter and so is supposed to catch up with a China market that rallied during that period; seen as being undervalued relative to China and opened up to China investors recently, investors reportedly hungry to put large amounts of cash into stocks.

As a result, the Hang Seng Index exploded on the upside this week, gaining an eye-watering 1,997 points or 8 per cent over four trading days.

In contrast, the Straits Times Index on Friday rose 12.08 points to 3,472.38, bringing its gain for the week to 20 points or 0.6 per cent. Turnover on Friday was 2.7 billion units worth S$1.3 billion or an average of S$0.48. Seventeen of the 20 most actively traded stocks cost less than S$0.20.

The attack on Noble occurred on Thursday but although the company's shares dropped S$0.05 after Muddy Waters' announcement, they bounced S$0.03 on Friday to $0.89 after Noble released a detailed rebuttal.