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Singapore shares close lower in low volume

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THE Straits Times Index on Tuesday drifted to an 8.41 points loss at 2,858.80 on low volume of 1.07 billion units worth S$826.6 million. It was the second successive day that dollar volume fell below the S$1 billion mark. Excluding warrants there were 190 rises versus 196 falls.

On Monday, Wall Street's three major indices closed at all-time highs, only the second time this year this has occured. However, perhaps because the Dow futures on Tuesday dropped about 35 points in Asian trading hours, trading here was lacklustre, with activity dull and devoid of many redeeming features.

"We are all glued to our screens," said a dealer. "The TV screens, that is. The market is on holiday so we might as well watch the Olympics."

That this was no exaggeration was confirmed by other traders who endorsed the view that the TV screen was much more watchable than the trading screen.

Pressure on the banks eased in the morning session most likely due to short-covering rather than any real pick-up in demand. In the afternoon, all three weakened although in UOB's case, it traded ex-dividend.

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The sector has been in focus because of its exposure to oil and gas (O&G) stocks which are facing financial problems due to the collapse in oil over the past two years.

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