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Singapore shares close flat on Friday, STI down 3.2% for week


JAPAN slashed its interest rates into negative territory and instead of the yen weakening and the stock market rising, the reverse has occurred - Japanese equities have collapsed and according to pundits, the yen has perversely become a safe haven.

Meanwhile, oil has resumed its downtrend, Wall Street is worried about what China might do when it reopens next week and European banks are in the spotlight because of financial solvency worries.

Over in Europe, Sweden followed Japan by moving to negative interest rates while in South Korea, trading in small caps on Friday was suspended after the small cap index collapsed by more than 8 per cent.

It all adds up to a lethal cocktail that dragged the Straits Times Index (STI) down 84 points or 3.2 per cent over the week to 2,539.95. Daily volume averaged S$1.2 billion, better than last year's figure which hovered around S$1 billion, though like last year, at least 70 per cent came from trading of blue chips. On Friday when the STI managed a 1.67 points rise, turnover was 900.7 million units worth S$1.2 billion.

Throughout the week the STI's falls were undoubtedly influenced by hefty doses of short selling; conversely, its bounces were significantly propelled by large amounts of short-covering. Also evident was that the index was heavily dependent on how the Dow futures behaved, and to a lesser extent, how Hong Kong moved.