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Singapore shares close week slightly higher as second liners steal the show


MOVEMENTS in the Straits Times Index (STI) sometimes fail to capture how the second and third-lines perform and this week provided an example of this.

A rebound in oil prices to near the US$50 per barrel mark and ambiguous US economic data that was not compelling enough to warrant higher interest rates kept the STI within striking distance of its Dec 31, 2015 close of 2,882 when, despite a 9.98 point loss on Friday at 2,875.24 it still managed a six point gain for the week. However, the real action was further afield.

Noble Group for instance, enjoyed massive volume and percentage gains this week after research house Religare Capital Markets indicated that Noble's balance sheet might be cleansed by a US$1 billion injection from the sale of Noble's US business unit, the rebound in oil prompted a buying frenzy in beaten-down oil and gas (O&G) stocks such as Ezra, Ezion and Nam Cheong while later in the week a healthcare play erupted, led by the likes of Singapore Medical Group, QT Vascular, Asiamedic and Healthway Medical.

These plays meant that traditional churning/trading/punting favourites such as ISR Capital, LionGold, Blumont, SunMoon Food and Attilan were pushed down the volume list, in some cases out of the top 20 altogether.

No matter, Thursday's volume of 2.03 billion units worth S$1.1 billion was the first time in a week that turnover crossed the S$1 billion mark, which considering that only S$613 million was done on Monday, brought some cheer to a generally weak market. Friday's turnover amounted to 1.7 billion units worth S$872 million.