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Singapore shares add 0.4% on China policy support, trade talks hopes

SINGAPORE equities tracked last Friday's Wall Street gains, and like its Asian counterparts, also rode tailwinds from the Chinese central bank's rate reform and positives from the US-China trade front.

The Straits Times Index (STI) got the week off to a positive start, finishing at 3,128.45, adding 13.42 points or 0.4 per cent.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, shares in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea posted gains. Of the lot, the Hang Seng posted its best session in two months, advancing 2.2 per cent or 557.62 points to 26,291.84. Malaysia bucked the trend, closing lower.

In Singapore, trading volume clocked in at 1.38 billion securities, 15 per cent more than the daily average in the first seven months of 2019. Total turnover came to S$1.04 billion, just under the January-to-July daily average.

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Across the market, advancers trumped decliners 252 to 161. The blue-chip index had five of the 30 counters closing in the red.

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding remained the STI's most active counter for a third straight session since trading resumed last Thursday. The counter gained as much as 7 per cent on Monday before settling at S$1.01, a two cent or 2 per cent gain. 

The local banks ended higher. DBS Group Holdings edged up five cents or 0.2 per cent to S$24.75, OCBC Bank added eight cents or 0.8 per cent to S$10.71 and United Overseas Bank closed at S$25.15, up S$0.11 or 0.4 per cent. 

Among pennies, shares in upstream oil services player Rex International jumped one Singapore cent or 14.7 per cent to 7.8 cents after its management said it has a war chest of US$70.8 million in cash, cash equivalents and quoted investments as at June 30. Rex also plans to monetise its Oman asset by end-2019. Its executive chairman added that the Catalist-listed company has been buying back shares as the market is not pricing in the value of its assets.

Rex shares were also given a boost as oil prices rose for a second day, thanks to a drone attack on a Saudi Arabian oil field. Fellow oil and gas play GSS Energy closed up 0.4 Singapore cent or 5.7 per cent at 7.4 cents.