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Singapore shares close flat on Friday, up 1.4% on the week

BETTER-THAN-EXPECTED manufacturing data from China competed with trade talk worries for investors' attention on Friday, leading to mixed results for Asian markets.

The Straits Times Index (STI) closed flat, down a mere 0.01 per cent or 0.45 point to 3,229.43. Still, small gains earlier in the shortened trading week helped the STI improve 1.38 per cent from last Friday's close.

Japan, New Zealand and Malaysia registered losses, while indices in China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Australia fared better and closed in positive territory.

Early in the day, investors were inclined to follow the US markets downward after Bloomberg reported that Chinese officials "won't budge on the thorniest issues" and the US could back out of the deal being negotiated. However, markets perked up with the release of a private survey on China's manufacturing, which showed that October factory activity in China expanded at the fastest pace in more than two years.

This was in contrast with the results released on Thursday from the official survey, which covers more of the large businesses and state-owned enterprises. That survey showed contraction for the sixth month in a row.

Turnover on the Singapore bourse clocked in at 1.11 billion securities worth S$1.03 billion, and gainers outnumbered losers 190 to 175.

Rex International led active counters with 108.5 million shares traded and closed 0.2 Singapore cent or 1.87 per cent higher at S$0.109. It announced on Friday that its unit Lime Petroleum AS had completed a farm-in deal for a 30 per cent stake in two Norwegian Sea drilling licences.

In second place was TEE International, which lost 0.2 Singapore cent or 3.64 per cent to S$0.053 on a volume of 37 million shares.

Among index stocks, Genting Singapore closed flat at S$0.94 and Yangzijiang Shipbuilding retreated 0.5 Singapore cent or 0.52 per cent to S$0.95.

The Chinese shipbuilder announced on Thursday evening that it had inked new orders for six 31,800 dwt Great Lakes bulk carriers.

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