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Singapore shares falter even as regional markets advance; STI down 0.4%

LOCAL shares took a hit on Thursday, with an unexpected 0.9 per cent year-on-year fall in the city-state's factory output for the month of October weighing on investor sentiment.

The decline was caused by a combination of a fall in electronics output and poorer biomedical performance. Economists had expected a 7.3 per cent growth.

The benchmark Straits Times Index ended Thursday down 12.07 points or 0.4 per cent at 2,857.48. Advancers outnumbered decliners 253 to 175, after some 1.87 billion securities worth S$1.25 billion changed hands.

Other markets in the region finished in positive territory. The KLCI and Nikkei 225 each gained 0.9 per cent; the Hang Seng Index added 0.6 per cent, and the SSE Composite Index rose 0.2 per cent.

Indices on Wall Street ended Wednesday mixed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.6 per cent, while the S&P 500 shed 0.2 per cent. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq finished the day 0.5 per cent higher.

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For now at least, Oanda's senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley is advising investors to continue buying on dips: "With bottomless amounts of cheap central bank cash and vaccine candidates emerging, the great rotation trade and asset price appreciation in general, is set to continue.

"Combined with a US holiday (Thanksgiving), meaning markets are vulnerable to headline risks on a quiet day, Asia is likely to follow America's lead and book profits and take some risk off the table."

The trio of lenders were among the biggest losers for the day. DBS lost 0.7 per cent or S$0.18 to S$25.50; UOB fell 0.7 per cent or S$0.17 to S$23.07, OCBC shed 0.6 per cent or S$0.06 to close at S$10.07.

On the other hand, glove makers were among the top advancers. Top Glove added 6.9 per cent or S$0.15 to S$2.34; UG Healthcare rose 10 per cent or 6.5 Singapore cents to 71.5 cents, and Riverstone Holdings gained 2.2 per cent or three Singapore cents to S$1.38.

Among the constituent stocks, Thai Beverage came out tops after posting a 2 per cent dip in its full-year net profit to 22.75 billion baht (S$1 billion), on the back of an overall contraction in the broader beverage industry in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The counter closed at 74.5 Singapore cents on Thursday, up 3.5 per cent or 2.5 cents. It was also the most heavily traded constituent counter, with some 46.7 million shares changing hands.

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