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Singapore shares close 0.2% higher on trade deal optimism

TRADE optimism that buoyed US markets on Friday had a similar effect on Asian markets on Monday, as investors clung to positive comments about progress on a US-China trade deal.

Echoing comments made by the US and China on Friday, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told leaders at the 35th Asean Summit in Bangkok that the two countries were making progress on their trade deal, and an agreement to walk back some of the tit-for-tat tariffs was "very far along".

The overall boost to sentiment lifted the Straits Times Index (STI) as much as 0.6 per cent in the morning session. It retreated during the rest of the day, eventually closing 0.22 per cent or 6.97 points higher to 3,236.40.

Turnover was 1.14 billion securities worth S$1.15 billion, with gainers outnumbering losers 240 to 175.

Other regional markets hung onto their gains more successfully, such as Hong Kong, which rallied 1.65 per cent to a three-month high, and South Korea, which closed up 1.43 per cent to a four-month high. Indices in China, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia all improved as well. Financial markets in Japan were closed for a public holiday.

In the Singapore market, Rex International was the most heavily traded counter for the second session running. About 92.7 million shares were traded and it closed at S$0.116, up 0.7 Singapore cent or 6.42 per cent.

Alpha Energy Holdings followed with 49.3 million shares, ending up 0.6 Singapore cent or 21.43 per cent to S$0.034.

Agriculture plays and property developers were among the stronger performers on the STI. Golden Agri-Resources was the top in terms of volume and percentage gains, adding 7.14 per cent on a volume of 36.8 million. Other counters in the top five were agribusiness group Wilmar International and developers City Developments and CapitaLand.

Pan Asian Holdings and Citic Envirotech called for trading halts on Monday morning. No announcements had been made by either as at market close.

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