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Singapore shares advance at Thursday's open; STI up 0.5%

SINGAPORE shares were pulled into positive territory on Thursday, with the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) gaining 12.45 points or 0.5 per cent to 2,479.07 as at 9am.

Gainers outpaced losers 76 to 28, after 48.5 million securities worth S$34.9 million changed hands.

Among the heavily traded securities, Sembcorp Marine gained 0.4 Singapore cent or 2.7 per cent to 15 cents, with 4.7 million shares traded. The stock also rose on Wednesday, as investors appeared to see a heightened possibility of a highly-speculated offshore and marine merger.

Meanwhile, Singapore Telecommunications was flat at S$2.12, with 1.6 million shares traded. The telco on Thursday announced that its group chief executive officer (CEO), Chua Sock Koong, is retiring after 31 years with the telco, effective Jan 1, 2021. Yuen Kuan Moon, who is CEO of Singtel's Singapore consumer business and the chief digital officer, will succeed her.

The trio of local lenders were up in early trade. DBS gained S$0.17 or 0.9 per cent to S$20.08, UOB added S$0.17 or 0.9 per cent to S$19.20, while OCBC was up S$0.12 or 1.4 per cent to S$8.54.

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Other active counters included Singapore Exchange which slipped S$0.11 or 1.2 per cent to S$9.04 on an ex-dividend basis.

CapitaLand Retail China Trust (CRCT) units advanced S$0.02 or 1.8 per cent to S$1.13. This comes after CRCT's manager on Wednesday said it will be expanding its investment strategy beyond the retail sector to include assets that are used for office and industrial purposes.

Over on Wall Street, stocks gained on Wednesday on positive US economic data and stimulus talks in Washington, as investors looked past a contentious presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former vice-president Joe Biden.

European shares ended a choppy September with a whimper, closing nearly flat on Wednesday. The continent's bourses trimmed their morning losses and the pan-European Stoxx 600 finished the day 0.1 per cent lower, while eurozone stocks slipped 0.3 per cent.

Elsewhere in Asia, a technical glitch forced a halt to all trading on Tokyo's stock exchanges on Thursday, with no information on when activity would resume, the bourse operator said.

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