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Singapore shares add 0.1% on Thursday amid bearish regional sentiment

MARKETS in Asia were mostly lower on Thursday as recent investor confidence faded on trade tensions between the US and the European Union and growing concerns about the slowdown in the global economy. 

In Singapore, market watchers also noted that investors have turned to profit-taking. But The Straits Times Index (STI) still managed to close higher. The index tumbled from a high of 3,346 in the first hour of trading to close at 3,330.82, 3.17 points or 0.1 per cent up. Eighteen of the 30 blue chips that make up the STI ended in the black.

Trading clocked in at 1.15 billion securities, about 91 per cent of the daily average over the first three months of 2019. Total turnover came to S$1.09 billion, 6.4 per cent above the January-to-March daily average.

Losers outnumbered gainers 229 to 181.

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Genting Singapore was the blue-chip index's most traded, ending the session flat at 96.5 cents with 57.6 million shares changing hands. The counter has shed 10.8 per cent since an increase in the casino entry levy and higher casino tax rates were announced, along with a S$4.5 billion reinvestment plan for Resorts World Sentosa.  

Going by value of trades done, United Overseas Bank saw S$126.9 million traded - 6.5 per cent of the bourse's value of securities traded - across 4.77 million shares. The bank's shares closed three Singapore cents or 0.1 per cent lower at S$26.53.

The other local banks were mixed as DBS Group Holdings fell four Singapore cents or 0.1 per cent to S$26.93 but OCBC Bank gained one Singapore cent or 0.1 per cent to close at S$11.73.

IG Market strategist Pan Jingyi said that a number of the main gainers on the day had "mostly been with the defensives with the telecommunication services, and utilities did not fare too badly either".

Of the lot, Singtel was of interest to investors, closing six Singapore cents or 1.9 per cent higher at S$3.17 on 29.6 million shares.

UOB Kay Hian's vice-president of equities and financial products Brandon Leu suggested that "investors are looking at a catch-up play, switching to fairly-valued quality counters that have lagged behind the recent market rally".

Among non-STI counters, Moya Holdings Asia was among the main gainers on the day. It was also the bourse's most traded. The water treatment solutions provider gained 0.7 Singapore cent or 8.6 per cent to end at 8.8 cents.