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Singapore shares advance at Thursday's open; STI up 1.3%

SINGAPORE stocks opened higher on Thursday, tracking a Wall Street rally overnight, amid optimism that novel coronavirus infections in the US could be close to peaking. 

Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) gained 1.3 per cent or 32.98 points to 2,572.42 as at 9.01am. 

Gainers outnumbered losers 119 to 13, after about 43.3 million securities worth S$45.9 million changed hands. 

Among the most heavily traded by volume, ESR-Reit shed one Singapore cent or 3.8 per cent to 25.5 cents with 79.6 million units traded, while Genting Singapore gained two Singapore cents or 2.8 per cent to 74.5 cents, with 63.1 million shares traded. 

Banking stocks were down in the early session of trading. DBS slipped S$0.28 or 1.5 per cent to S$18.83, OCBC Bank lost S$0.12 or 1.3 per cent to S$8.81, while UOB fell S$0.25 or 1.2 per cent to S$19.90. 

The three local banks, which are major employers in Singapore, have pledged no retrenchments amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Other active securities included Singapore Press Holdings, which declined S$0.07 or 4.4 per cent to S$1.53, and Ascendas Reit, which fell S$0.11 or 3.8 per cent to S$2.77. 

Meanwhile, ST Engineering gained S$0.08 or 2.6 per cent to S$3.21, and the Singapore Exchange added S$0.21 or 2.2 per cent to S$9.79. 

In the US, stocks ended with solid gains as the market embraced data that the spread of Covid-19 was starting to slow. The rally also comes after US Senator Bernie Sanders dropped out of the presidential race, clearing the way for rival Joe Biden to face off against Republican incumbent Donald Trump in November. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 3.4 per cent or around 780 points to 23,433.57. The broad-based S&P 500 also surged 3.4 per cent to 2,749.98, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite advanced 2.6 per cent to 8,090.90.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, stocks were mixed following a three-day rally. Japan's Topix slipped 0.2 per cent and South Korea's Kospi gained 1.8 per cent, while Australia stocks added 1.2 per cent.

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