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Singapore: Shares advance at Friday's open; STI up 2.6%

SINGAPORE stocks opened higher on Friday after the government unveiled a S$48.4 billion commitment to help Singapore weather the Covid-19 crisis. The Resilience Budget includes measures such as S$20 billion set aside as loan capital, enhanced financing for firms, larger wage offsets, property tax rebates of up to 100 per cent, deferment of corporate income tax and more help for harder-hit sectors including aviation.

Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) rose 2.6 per cent or 65.63 points to 2,553.19 as at 9.03am.

Gainers outnumbered losers 154 to 26, after around 66.5 million securities worth S$153.8 million changed hands.

The most active counter by volume was Hutchison Port Holdings Trust, which rose 0.4 US cent or 3.9 per cent to 10.8 cents, with 4.1 million shares traded. 

Other heavily traded securities include Genting Singapore, which gained 2.5 Singapore cents or 4.1 per cent to 64 cents with 3.9 million shares traded, and Singtel, which was up S$0.07 or 2.8 per cent to S$2.59 with 3.7 million shares traded.

Banking stocks also gained in early-morning trade. DBS was trading up S$0.53 or 2.8 per cent at S$19.59, UOB advanced S$0.59 or 3 per cent to S$20.32, while OCBC rose S$0.24 or 2.7 per cent to S$8.99.

Other active index counters include Singapore Airlines, which was down S$0.17 or 2.6 per cent to S$6.33 after resuming trade on Friday. The carrier on Thursday night proposed a massive cash call comprising a 3-for-2 rights issue of shares and a convertible bond issue to raise a combined S$8.8 billion, fully underwritten by Temasek.

The Resilience Budget also included an enhanced support package and 75 per cent wage offsets for aviation and tourism-related firms.

Ground handler SATS saw its shares climb 9.9 per cent or S$0.33 to S$3.65 as at 10.05am on Friday.

In the US, the Dow surged for a third straight session on Thursday after a massive US economic relief package was approved. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 6.4 per cent to 22,523.15, the S&P 500 jumped 6.2 per cent to 2,630.07, while the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 5.6 per cent to 7,797.54.

European stocks ended higher on Thursday, tracking gains on Wall Street, as investors await a vote by EU lawmakers on emergency funds to cushion the blow from the novel coronavirus pandemic. The pan-European Stoxx 600 Index closed 2.6 per cent higher. 

Elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo stocks opened over 3 per cent higher on Friday. The Nikkei 225 Index jumped 3.4 per cent to 19,303.64 in early trade, while the Topix was up 3.1 per cent to 1,442.46.