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Singapore shares gain 0.8% on Thursday's late surge

INVESTOR sentiment continued to be heavily dependent on US-China trade developments with the local market witnessing a late surge after Beijing indicated that it does not intend to react immediately to Washington's most recent tariff increase.

Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) traded as much as 15 points lower before a strong drive to close at 3,081.83, up 25.36 points or 0.8 per cent. The surge in the later session brought the blue chip index back in the black for 2019.

Having closed before the latest trade development broke, other key markets in the Asia-Pacific were mostly lower. China, Japan, South Korea were in the red. Australia and Malaysia posted gains.

In Singapore, trading volume clocked in at 1.18 billion securities, 98 per cent the daily average in the first seven months of 2019. Total turnover came to S$1.02 billion, just under the January-to-July daily average.

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Across the market, advancers trumped decliners 234 to 172. The blue-chip index had two of the 30 counters closing in the red.

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding, which gained 2.5 Singapore cents or 2.8 per cent to 91 Singapore cents, kept its place as the most active counter on the STI with 37.5 million shares changing hands.  

The late turn towards pro-risk activity saw the local banks end higher. DBS Group Holdings climbed S$0.22 or 0.9 per cent to S$24.24; OCBC Bank gained S$0.06 or 0.6 per cent to S$10.57 and United Overseas Bank ended at S$24.78, advancing S$0.37 or 1.5 per cent.

Like the banking trio, telco Singtel recovered from early losses to close unchanged at S$3.15. Fellow telco StarHub closed one Singapore cent or 0.8 per cent down at S$1.30.

Among real estate investment trusts (Reits), Mapletree Commercial Trust - the most likely candidate for STI inclusion in September -  continued to trade strongly. Its units added S$0.05 or 2.3 per cent to finish at S$2.24 on Thursday, a 52-week high. The Reit has gained 5.2 per cent this week.