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Singapore shares edge up 0.1%, gain 0.8% on the week

POSITIVE economic data from the US and China struggled to keep sentiment afloat on Friday as trade deal exuberance largely wore off, with Asia-Pacific equities closing the day mixed.

Markets that ended higher include Hong Kong, Japan and Australia. South Korea's KOSPI and the Shanghai Composite Index ended flat, while the Shenzhen Composite Index slipped 0.3 per cent.

Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) was among the indices that failed to build on the previous session's gains. It closed at 3,281.03, having gained just 3.03 points or 0.09 per cent. Over the course of the week, it advanced 0.8 per cent from last Friday's close of 3,255.95.

Second liners attracted keen interest, with advancers significantly outnumbering decliners 258 to 167 despite the STI's muted performance. Total turnover was also unusually high at 2.07 billion securities, but total value was just S$1.06 billion.

Some news items that investors mulled over included stronger US retail sales for December and China's 2019 gross domestic product expanding in line with expectations. In Singapore, non-oil domestic exports posted the first expansion in nine months, growing by 2.4 per cent year-on-year in December 2019.

"The latest slew of economic data suggests that the global economy is stabilising and poised for a recovery amid de-escalating US-China trade tensions," said FXTM market analyst Han Tan. "Such an environment should also offer emerging markets the chance to find a more stable footing and provide room for riskier assets to advance higher."

He added that although investors should stay on the alert for downside risks like geopolitical conflicts, they can be cautiously optimistic "knowing that major risks have considerably subsided for the time being".

Phosphate miner AsiaPhos was the top traded counter, gaining 1.9 Singapore cents to S$0.047 on a volume of 138.6 million shares. It was followed by Golden Agri-Resources, which closed flat at S$0.235 after 133.5 million shares changed hands.

Shares of BreadTalk Group closed down 4.5 Singapore cents or 6.52 per cent to S$0.645, after diving as much as 8.7 per cent earlier in the day. This came after the company flagged an expected net loss for FY2019 late on Thursday.

Rex International rose 1.1 Singapore cents or 6.08 per cent to S$0.192 on news that its unit Lime Petroleum had clinched 20 and 30 per cent stakes in two new offshore licences in the Norwegian Sea.

Singtel remained actively traded, after its associate Bharti Airtel lost a court petition over revenue due to the Indian government. Airtel will have to pay roughly US$5 billion by Jan 24, but could benefit from the potential exit of competitor Vodafone Idea, which will struggle to pay its dues of about US$7.5 billion, DBS analyst Sachin Mittal wrote in a research report on Friday.

Singtel shares closed down three Singapore cents or 0.9 per cent to S$3.30 on Friday.