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Singapore shares close Friday lower; STI gains 0.6% for week

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BY most accounts US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won this week's third and final debate with her Republican candidate Donald Trump, which should have sparked some sort of rally in stocks because Mrs Clinton offers continuity and predictability - both qualities that markets prefer. After all, that was the case with the first debate which Mrs Clinton also won decisively - the Mexican peso and Canadian dollar rose that day, as did stocks.

However, the lacklustre reception posted by markets this week to a third Clinton victory out of the three debates is not only an indictment of Mr Trump's dismal performance but it also suggests that investors have already priced in a Clinton victory - or, if you prefer, a Trump defeat, and are now starting to look beyond the Nov 8 elections at earnings, the economy and interest rates.

As a result, the local market this week didn't really do much - the Straits Times Index initially rose in response to firmer oil prices at the start of the week, but on Friday its 11.56 points loss at 2,831.06 meant its gain for the week was limited to 16 points or 0.6 per cent.

Declining liquidity has been a perennial worry this year and this week's action did little to dispel the notion among many trading representatives that they are operating in a structurally weak and illiquid market with little signs of improvement in the months ahead. Friday's 1.5 billion shares worth S$736 million was the lowest in nine sessions when there were only 137 rises versus 223 falls, excluding warrants.

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