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Singapore shares close higher after five straight days of losses

After having fallen 109 points in five straight sessions up to Monday, the Straits Times Index on Tuesday rebounded 25.15 points to 2,999.56. This was in line with an overnight rally in Wall Street and gains in Hong Kong and China, although weakness in the Dow futures probably led to a stalling of the upward momentum - the index rose to near its closing level in the late morning and stayed there for all of the second half.

As has become the norm in past months, turnover was low at 1.3 billion units worth S$880.3 million. Volume in STI components amounted to 220.4 million units worth S$603.5 million, which means that non-STI stocks only contributed about S$277 million or 31 per cent of total business. Excluding warrants, there were 265 rises versus 140 falls.

The three banks have been the main drivers of the index throughout the year and it was again the case on Tuesday. DBS led the way with a S$0.35 or 2 per cent jump to S$17.60 on volume of six million shares following its Monday release of third quarter figures.

Macquarie Warrants (MW) said in its daily newsletter that Macquarie Equities Research (MER) believes the key reasons to buy DBS are (i) good earnings momentum in a relative context, (ii) relative beneficiary of higher rates given the strong S$ liquidity position, (iii) potential to lift dividend payout ratios, and (iv) potential to shift the strategic focus towards cost efficiency if growth opportunities continue to disappear. It has a 12-month target price of S$20.

Maybank Kim Eng, however, called a "sell" on DBS, saying that regional consumer sentiment and business prospects remain downcast.