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Singapore shares close higher on Friday but lower for the week


A DISASTROUS start, an even worse mid-week session, and an encouraging finish - this sums up the week just passed, during which equity markets everywhere continued to display massive volatility, reportedly because of oil price weakness and large swings in China where prices are more likely to rise than fall.

The week kicked off with the Straits Times Index losing almost 38 points or 1.4 per cent and even though it regained all of this on Tuesday when it rebounded 45, the worst was reserved for Wednesday and Thursday when the loss was just over 100 points. Friday's 44.39 points rebound to 2,577.09, however, helped trim the loss for the week to 53 points or 2 per cent.

Amid all the gloom, though, liquidity has improved. Daily averages are now regularly above S$1 billion, roughly 20-30 per cent higher than a month ago. This is encouraging, though taking some of the shine off is the fact that almost three quarters of the daily turnover comes from the 30 STI components, meaning the remaining 800-odd stocks contribute only one quarter of daily business. On Friday, shares worth S$1.44 billion changed hands, S$1.1 billion or 79 per cent of which were from STI members.

Throughout the week, the index tracked developments in various markets, starting with China and Hong Kong, then oil, and then the Dow futures, the latter offering some insight into how Wall Street might open later on Friday.