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Singapore shares close higher in line with rises in HK, China and Dow futures

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BLUE chips again dominated trading on Thursday during a session in which the Straits Times Index (STI) underwent a familiar pattern of tracking movements in Hong Kong, Shanghai and the Dow futures. Gains in all three meant the STI jumped 31.22 points or 1.05 per cent to 3,015.14, pushed higher by the three banks, Singtel and Keppel Corp.

Turnover for the whole market was low at 1.5 billion units worth S$1.1 billion, of which S$794.6 million or 72 per cent was done in the 30 index members - a proportion that was in line with daily trading over the past two to three weeks. Excluding warrants there were 288 rises versus 129 falls.

News reports suggested that equities in China and Hong Kong rose because of hopes that the government will soon announce fresh stimulus measures. Reuters reported that outstanding margin loans in China rose in the past five sessions and that last week, investors' securities accounts witnessed weekly net inflows for the first time in six weeks.

Over in the US, much weaker-than-expected retail sales figures and a sharp fall in producer prices have reinforced hopes that the US Federal Reserve will not raise interest rates this year, hopes which probably underpinned a 100-point rise in the Dow futures that indicated a firm Thursday for Wall Street.

Among the most actively traded stocks was Jiutian Chemical, which ended the day S$0.002 higher at S$0.028 on volume of 50.6 million. The company was queried in the morning by the Singapore Exchange (SGX) over the unusual volume done on its shares recently. Jiutian replied that it did not know of reasons for the interest in its shares and this led to the SGX issuing its "Trade with Caution" notice.