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Singapore shares inch higher on Friday, down 3.5% on the week

IN a week that did not start too kindly for investors in Asia, the Singapore market gained slightly on Friday as investors were hopeful that the US and China would be able to work towards a trade deal.

Asian markets, for the most part, had been in a sanguine mood of late, until Sunday's announcement by US President Donald Trump that he would raise existing tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese goods on Friday.

The tariffs were in force one minute after noon Singapore time. Beijing has said it will retaliate but no details of how it would do so have been revealed.

Like many of its peers, the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) opened higher but whipsawed shortly after the US tariffs on China were in force, eventually closing at 3,273.50, up 3.80 points or 0.1 per cent.

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On the week, the benchmark index dropped 118.79 points or 3.5 per cent from last Friday's close of 3,392.29.

In recent weeks, analysts have said that markets were in need of a meaningful correction after rallying since the start of the year.

In Singapore, trading clocked in at 981.97 million securities or 80 per cent of the daily average in the first four months of 2019. Total turnover came to S$1.07 billion, 4 per cent more than the January-to-April daily average.

Across the market, decliners pipped advancers 195 to 193. Compared to the broader market, the benchmark fared better, with nine of the STI's 30 components ending in the red.

Among them, Genting Singapore was the blue-chip index's most traded. The casino operator closed 1.5 Singapore cents or 1.6 per cent lower at 93.5 cents with 52 million shares changing hands. Even though Genting Singapore's first-quarter net profit fell 5 per cent due to lower gaming revenue, research houses kept their "Buy" calls on the stock.

The local banks were mixed on Friday, though most attention was placed on OCBC Bank, which posted first-quarter earnings before market open that beat expectations. Its shares advanced eight Singapore cents or 0.7 per cent to end the week at S$11.39.

DBS Group Holdings dipped five Singapore cents or 0.2 per cent at S$26.55 while United Overseas Bank rose S$0.13 or 0.5 per cent at S$25.61.

Penny play was active during Friday's session, with Global Invacom Group being the most active non-STI counter. The company saw 34.6 million of its shares traded. The satellite communications equipment provider gained 1.1 Singapore cents or 15.7 per cent to 8.1 cents.