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Singapore shares close lower, but off intraday lows thanks to Dow futures


THE Straits Times Index (STI), having inexplicably shot up 64 points on Friday before the Chinese New Year holidays, on Wednesday collapsed 41.11 points to 2,582.10 on the first day of trading after those holidays.

However, a rebound in the Dow futures late in the afternoon and Europe opening in the black meant that the index finished significantly off its intraday low of 2,538. Excluding warrants there were 85 rises versus 288 falls.

A plunging Japanese market where pushing interest rates into negative territory has not had the desired effect, a skittish Wall Street where doubts have arisen about the US's economic recovery and rumours of banking problems to come - possibly in Europe - combined to bring pressure to bear in high volume of 802 million units worth S$1.2 billion.

On Friday, the STI's surge stood out amid region-wide weakness and a slide in the Dow futures, an anomaly that brokers were at a loss to explain.

No matter, that jump was led by Singtel, whose S$0.22 or 6.3 per cent gain added 20 points; on Wednesday, the counter slipped S$0.04 down to S$3.66 on volume of 40.5 million.

Also contributing significantly to Friday's spike were the three banks so it came as no surprise that all fell back on Wednesday. Added pressure on the sector came from recent selloffs in European banks on concerns over their financial health.

In the second line, shares of China retail store operator Zhongmin Baihui crashed S$0.45 or 26 per cent to S$1.30 on volume of 84,700 after the Singapore Exchange (SGX) on Friday announced that a small group of individuals who are likely connected to each other was responsible for over 90 per cent of the volume between Oct 26, 2015 and Feb 4 when the counter held steady despite turmoil in the overall market.