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Singapore: Penny stocks rule even as STI rises to 7-year high

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The Straits Times Index may have risen 12.01 points to 3,484.39 on Monday, its highest closing in about seven years but you wouldn't know it speaking to dealers since the action and excitement was mostly in churning penny stocks - the lower priced, the better.

The more relevant numbers to describe how Monday's session went was perhaps not so much the STI's move but instead the turnover - 3.4 billion units worth S$1.3 billion was traded for an average value per unit of S$0.38. Excluding warrants there were 307 rises versus 187 falls.

Volume done in the 30 STI components was only S$192 million, in dollar terms only 15 per cent of the whole market's business, way below last year's average of about 50-60 per cent. A year ago on Monday, April 14, STI components traded S$483 million, 56 per cent of the day's volume of S$870 million.

The day's most active stock was Digiland which ended unchanged at S$0.001, the counter chalking up volume of 297 million units, roughly 9 per cent of the whole day's unit turnover. Seventeen of the top 20 actives were priced below S$0.20 per share, the exceptions being Noble Group, Thai Beverage and IHC.

Within the index, shares of the Singapore Exchange (SGX) shot up S$0.19 or 2.3 per cent to S$8.40 on volume of 9.2 million, prompting some observers to ask ironically whether SGX would be querying itself for reasons behind the sudden burst of interest in its shares.