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Singapore shares close higher - but only just, as STI sheds 40 points from intraday high

Wall Street's Tuesday rise helped calm some nerves and prompted a bout of short covering that pushed the Straits Times Index (STI) higher for most of Wednesday. A weak opening for Europe, however, cut the index's gain to just 0.57 point at 2,546.18. Its intraday peak was 2,584.

THERE was just about sufficient follow-through momentum - possibly mainly through short-covering - from Friday's bounce to enable the Straits Times Index (STI) to rise 5.55 points to 2,582.64 on Monday, but an indifferent performance by key overseas markets meant the index closed well below its intraday high of 2,622 points.

These markets were, in no particular order, Hong Kong and China which ended higher, versus the Dow futures and Europe which traded deeply in the red.

Perhaps not surprisingly given it was a nervous and cautious session, turnover fell from Friday's S$1.4 billion to 910 million units worth S$1.04 billion on Monday, with the broad market excluding warrants recording 177 rises versus 215 falls. Business in the 30 STI components contributed S$804 million or 78 per cent.

"The index is up but it's actually the three banks more than anything else," said a dealer.

In the offshore and marine sector, Keppel Corp's two-day rebound came to an end when it dropped S$0.21 or 4.2 per cent to S$4.81 on volume of 16.1 million while Sembcorp Marine dropped S$0.06 or 4 per cent to S$1.495 on turnover of 7.8 million.

In the second line, shares of UG Healthcare plunged S$0.14 or 32 per cent to S$0.30 on volume of 8.8 million, drawing a query from Singapore Exchange. The company replied by saying it did not know of reasons for the fall.

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