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Singapore shares close weaker on Brexit worries

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"OTHER than Noble's rights and shares, the rest of the market is still on holiday," said a dealer, perhaps a slight exaggeration given the spurt of interest in other second liners such as CNMC Goldmine. But that is a fairly accurate description of a Thursday session in which the Straits Times Index drifted to a 2.5-point loss at 2,862.17 in the wake of overnight, "Brexit"-induced selling Europe-wide.

Over in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng closed one per cent higher while the Dow futures at 5pm gained 28 points.

Turnover, however, was marginally above average at 1.6 billion units worth S$1.2 billion. The average worked out to S$0.75 per unit, a good indication of where the market's energies were directed. Excluding warrants, there were 188 rises versus 202 falls.

Britain's June 23 vote to exit the European Union (EU), popularly known as "Brexit", was said to be weighing on stocks and driving money into safe havens and defensive markets. On Wednesday, European markets lost between 1-2 per cent and the British pound took a beating, although Wall Street closed higher.

There was some speculation that the relative resilience displayed by the local market this week in response to turmoil in European stocks and currencies was because of its traditional "defensive" reputation, ie, it has financially sound companies with decent dividend yields.