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Banks help STI cross 2,900 in mixed but active session

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AN overnight rise on Wall Street and probable month-end window-dressing of certain key blue chips - or "portfolio rebalancing" if you prefer - on Wednesday helped push the Straits Times Index up 24.88 points to 2,904.02, taking it 22 points or 0.8 per cent into the black for 2016.

Wednesday also saw the latest Morgan Stanley Capital International index rebalancing comes into effect. For the MSCI Singapore Index, Sats was added whilst Noble Group and SembCorp Marine were deleted. However, both were then included in the MSCI Singapore Small Cap Index. Noble crashed S$0.013 or 7.6 per cent to S$0.159 on massive volume of 1.23 billion, SMM closed with a S$0.085 or 5.7 per cent loss at S$1.395 on volume of 85.4 million.

A steep slide in oil prices, however, dampened sentiment somewhat and this was reflected in an advance-decline score of 227-222 which suggested that the index's gains were narrowly focused and that the broad market did not follow.

A check of the index's movers showed that rises in the three banks were instrumental in sending the STI above 2016's starting level of 2,882, their combined contribution amounting to almost 12 points.

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Thanks to the heightened activity in blue chips and the selling of Noble, turnover came to 2.9 billion units worth S$2.6 billion, the highest daily total for the year.