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Singapore shares gain 0.8% ahead of Trump's US trade policy speech

AFTER a tepid start to the week, Asian equities were mostly higher on Tuesday as investors position themselves for US President Donald Trump's speech on US trade policy, and a potential tariff delay on European autos.

Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) managed to recoup its 0.7 per cent loss on Monday, closing 27.15 points or 0.8 per cent higher to 3,267.80. The green lights were flashing for the vast majority of the benchmark's counters, with 27 of 30 gaining ground.

This led one dealer to comment that based on Tuesday's share price movements, Monday's weakness "appeared to be a good time to accumulate stocks".

Like the local market, China, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan all turned in gains. However, Australia ended lower.

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While there were opportunities to buy on the dip, trading floors in Asia were best described as cautious after investors, who only last week were bullish on a mini US-China trade pact, were left having to make sense of Mr Trump dismissing claims that a plan to roll back tariffs on China has been agreed upon.

AxiTrader chief Asia market strategist Stephen Innes noted investors were skittish ahead of Mr Trump's speech on US trade policy at the New York Economic Club on Tuesday. He said: "This speech could be the main event this week, especially if the president dangles any tangible details about his upcoming meeting with President Xi of China."

Investors are also keeping a lookout for developments in Hong Kong after protests continue to show signs of escalating.

In Singapore, trading volume stood at 1.63 billion securities, 41 per cent over the daily average in the first 10 months of 2019. Meanwhile, total turnover clocked in at S$1.24 billion, 18 per cent more than the January-to-October daily average. Across the market, advancers trumped decliners 246 to 154.

There was much activity among second-line counters on Tuesday, led by talk surrounding United Engineers (UE), which gained five Singapore cents or 1.9 per cent to S$2.70 with 40.5 million shares changing hands.

On Tuesday, China-based property developer Yanlord Land Group increased its cash offer for UE to S$2.70 per share, from the S$2.60 it offered last month. Yanlord has acquired 6.15 per cent of total UE ordinary shares at the new S$2.70 per share price, bringing its total ownership to 41.42 per cent.

In the session after posting a 34.4 per cent increase in profit to US$7.9 million in Q3, food and beverage player Food Empire jumped five Singapore cents or 9.3 per cent to close at S$0.59, its highest closing price since Jan 3.  

Among STI counters, Golden Agri-Resources continued to post strong gains, jumping three Singapore cents or 13 per cent to S$0.26 on 109.6 million shares traded, the most on the Singapore bourse. The agribusiness player's stock has gained 27 per cent this month ahead of its Q3 earnings release, which will be announced prior to Thursday's trading session.

Transport operator ComfortDelGro, which closed S$0.03 or 1.3 per cent higher to S$2.39, will release its third-quarter results on Wednesday after market close.