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Singapore shares close higher as STI rebounds 1.7%; penny activity fades

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TRADERS on Tuesday continued their churning of the lowest-priced stocks in the market but news of online trading restrictions on some of the recent, more speculative plays placed a dampener on their efforts.

Blue chips in the meantime rebounded strongly, though short-covering undoubtedly played a part after nearly two weeks of relentless selling that saw the index lose 226 points or 7.7 per cent in 15 trading sessions. Tuesday's bounce of 45.05 points or 1.65 per cent ensured that the 2016 closing low of 2,539 on Feb 12 would not be tested, at least not yet.

Despite the index's display of strength, the broad market recorded only 268 rises versus 156 falls, excluding warrants. Turnover was 1.8 billion units worth S$1.18 billion, of which S$905 million or 77 per cent came from the 30 STI components.

All three banks rose, though all had been heavily battered after releasing their first-quarter numbers over the past fortnight. Also pushing the index higher was Thai Beverage, which jumped S$0.045 or 5.4 per cent to S$0.875 on volume of 108.6 million. In a May 16 report, OCBC Investment Research described Thai Beverage's recent results as good and kept its "buy" rating, with a fair value estimate of S$0.83 based on a discounted cash flow analysis.

Elsewhere, activity in penny speculatives that erupted on Monday was relatively muted after trading restrictions were imposed on some, such as Attilan, Blumont, Jadason, LionGold and ISR Capital. All these counters ended the day weaker.