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Singapore shares close 1.3% higher after news of Hong Kong extradition bill withdrawal

TRADERS did have economic data from the US and China to digest, but the news that Hong Kong will withdraw its much-criticised extradition bill stole the show, stamping its influence on sentiment, which took on a decidedly risk-on tone.

The bill has drawn the ire of Hong Kongers and served as the trigger for 13 weeks of protests in the territory. The news that it would be removed saw Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) jump in the afternoon session with the benchmark heading for a 39.94 points or 1.3 per cent gain to close at 3,130.57.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea were higher. Bucking the trend was Australia, though in all fairness, markets Down Under did not get to ride the winds of optimism as they closed before the developments in Hong Kong.

Unsurprisingly, the Hang Seng Index was the best performer among the region's key benchmarks, surging 600 points in the half-hour after the South China Morning Post broke news that Hong Kong's chief executive Carrie Lam will drop the extradition bill. It closed 995.38 points or 3.9 per cent higher at 26,523.23.

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In Singapore, trading volume clocked in at 1.39 billion securities, 16 per cent over the daily average in the first seven months of 2019. Total turnover came to S$1.29 billion, 22 per cent more than the January-to-July daily average.

Across the market, advancers trumped decliners 274 to 163. The blue-chip index had just three of the 30 counters in the loss column.

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding, which added 3.5 Singapore cents or 3.9 per cent to S$0.94, remained the most active counter on the STI with 60.8 million shares changing hands.

The banking trio was higher. DBS Group Holdings climbed S$0.19 or 0.8 per cent to S$24.54; OCBC Bank added S$0.06 or 0.6 per cent to S$10.71 and United Overseas Bank ended at S$25.10, up S$0.17 or 0.7 per cent.

With significant exposure to Hong Kong, the Jardines were among the STI's best performers. Of the lot, real estate play HongKong Land was the standout, streaking ahead to finish US$0.45 or 8.3 per cent higher at US$5.89. Meanwhile, Jardine Matheson Holdings advanced US$2.72 or 5.2 per cent to US$55.24 and Jardine Strategic Holdings added US$0.61 or 2 per cent up at US$31.70.