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Singapore shares close higher, but well off intraday highs


A DRAB session for the local stock market on Thursday ended with the Straits Times Index a net 7.75 points firmer at 2,558.49, the broad market chalking up 208 rises versus 148 falls excluding warrants and a weak turnover of 759 million units worth S$867.4 million.

Helping boost prices was a 100-point rise in the Dow futures and marginally firmer oil prices. However, at 5pm the Dow futures stood only 30 points higher, thus dragging the STI 21 points down from its intraday high of 2,579.

Offshore and marine (O&M) stocks were slightly firmer as a result of the rise in oil, though the gains were modest - for instance, Keppel Corp rose only S$0.04 to S$4.86 and SembCorp Marine just S$0.01 to S$1.45. Elsewhere, banks were mixed - DBS and OCBC rose but UOB weakened.

Nomura in its Feb 3 Asean Banks Digest noted that banking in Asia was the worst performing sector, down 11 per cent and underperforming the MSCI index by 3 per cent.

"Thai banks were the best performers at 6 per cent, while the Japanese banks were the worst performers, at -15 per cent," said Nomura.

It added that it thinks Singapore banks underperformed owing to market concerns about their China and commodities exposure but likes them because they currently trade at a 20 per cent discount to their mean valuations and their net interest margins should benefit from rising domestic interest rates.

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