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Late dip sees STI extend losing streak, down 0.1% on Monday

FRESH off its worst session since August 2011, Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) managed to overturn an early 0.7 per cent loss to trade higher for most of the Monday session.

It closed 3.36 points or 0.11 per cent lower at 3,007.72, extending its losing streak to four.

Even though the STI dipped late, investors in the city-state were buoyed by hopes of US Federal Reserve rate cut in March after its chair Jerome Powell said the Covid-19 outbreak is posing evolving risks to economic activity.

Moods were also lifted after Chinese small- and medium-sized firms surveyed for Caixin Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) felt that business confidence was rising. While the private survey reading of 40.3 was the lowest since measure was launched in 2004, it was better than the official PMI readings last Saturday. That said, investors are also hoping for further stimulus measures in China after dismal data releases.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, equity benchmarks were mixed. Australia, Malaysia and Taiwan performed similarly to the STI, notching up losses.

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On the other hand, Japan, China, Hong Kong and South Korea notched up gains. Of the lot, China's Shanghai Composite Index jumped 90.63 points or 3.2 per cent to 2,970.93. 

Trading volume in Singapore was 1.61 billion securities, 36 per cent over the 2019 daily average. Total turnover came to S$1.91 billion, 80 per cent over last year's intraday mean.

Across the broader market, advancers outpaced decliners 254 to 236. Thirteen of the blue-chip index's 30 components ended in the red.

The local banks were lower. DBS shares dipped S$0.06 or 0.3 per cent to S$24.05, OCBC Bank edged down S$0.02 or 0.2 per cent to S$10.58 and United Overseas Bank was closed at S$24.24, down S$0.24 or one per cent.

Singtel shares closed S$0.02 or 0.7 per cent down at S$2.98 after the telco announced a collaboration with Nokia to develop and trial 5G network slicing capabilities.  Network slicing is a 5G feature where multiple virtual networks can be created atop one physical network.

Separately, Fitch Ratings downgraded Singtel's long-term foreign and local-currency issuer default ratings and foreign-currency senior unsecured rating to "A" from "A+". 

Among listings of technology manufacturers, Venture Corp advanced S$0.38 or 2.3 per cent to S$16.83. On Monday, OCBC Investment Research upgraded the electronic manufacturing services firm to "buy" after its FY2019 results last Thursday.

The research house noted that Venture could potentially benefit from customers seeking alternative manufacturing partners who possess facilities outside China "for supply chain resilience and diversity" due to the Covid-19 outbreak. 

Meanwhile, semiconductor play Frencken Group gained S$0.02 or 2.4 per cent to S$0.85. Research houses expect its improved margins to be sustained after it posted a FY2019 bottom line that came in 19 per cent above Bloomberg consensus estimates.

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