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Singapore shares open lower on Friday

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SINGAPORE share prices opened 0.6 per cent lower on Friday, with the Straits Times Index (STI) down 16.46 points to 2,728.93 at 9.08 am.

On the Singapore bourse, the highest value traded stocks were warehouse provider Global Logistic Properties (down 2.5 cents at S$1.73); Singapore Airlines (down 43 cents at S$11.20); and Singtel (down three cents at S$3.86) at 9.08 am.

Overall on the stock market, 78.5 million shares worth S$95 million changed hands, with losers outnumbering gainers 84 to 76 as at 9.08 am.

Late on Thursday evening, it was announced that Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam will be covering the duties of Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat while Mr Heng - a core member of Singapore's slate of fourth-generation leaders - remains in intensive care after suffering a stroke.

BT reported observers as saying that having Mr Tharman helm the Finance Ministry as Mr Heng recovers will help provide stability and steady market sentiment, even as Singapore works to transition its economy amid a global slowdown.

On Wall Street, US stocks ended mixed on Thursday, with gains in telecommunications and consumer staples helping to make up for a tumble in Apple to a two-year low.

The Dow Jones industrial average finished 0.05 per cent higher at 17,720.5 points and the S&P 500 ended down 0.02 per cent at 2,064.11. Pinched by Apple's drop, the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.49 per cent to 4,737.33.

In Asia, Tokyo stocks rose at the start of trade on Friday despite the weak lead from Wall Street as Nissan surged more than 5 per cent after reporting full-year earnings the previous day.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange gained 0.36 per cent, or 59.68 points, to 16,706.02 after the opening bell, while the broader Topix index of all first-section shares was up 0.25 per cent, or 3.37 points, at 1,340.64.