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Singapore shares jump 0.7% on Friday, flat on the week

THERE was a sense of measured optimism in regional markets on Friday, after slight gains on Wall Street and no major developments on the trade front.

Asian markets were propped up by reports China has offered to waive tariffs on some imports of US soybean and pork, and US factory orders rebounding in October.

Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) extended gains from Thursday to close the week at 3,194.71, jumping 20.52 points or 0.7 per cent. On the week, the blue-chip index dipped 0.79 point from last Friday's close of 3,193.92.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, the green lights were flashing, with benchmarks in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan all posting good gains to close the trading week out.

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Of the lot, China's Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.4 per cent this week, registering its best weekly performance in two months.

Like much of November, investors focused their attention on updates from the US-China trade front in the first week of December instead of the numerous economic data releases put out. It is likely to continue that way in the coming weeks.

"Whether or not the US and China can cut a deal remains the obsession, arguably the only game in town heading into the Dec 15 deadline for the next round of tariffs," Vishnu Varathan, Mizuho Bank's head of economics and strategy for the Asia and Oceania treasury noted.

In Singapore, trading volume stood at one billion securities, 87 per cent of the daily average in the first 10 months of 2019. Meanwhile, total turnover clocked in at S$1.19 billion, 13 per cent over the January-to-October daily average.

Across the market, advancers outpaced decliners 183 to 171. Three of the benchmark's 30 counters ended in the red.

With 84.3 million shares changing hands, Golden Agri-Resources continued to be the STI's most active counter. It closed one Singapore cent or 4.3 per cent lower to 22 cents after index compiler FTSE Russell indicated that the plantation owner will be dropped from the STI and replaced by Mapletree Logistics Trust from Dec 23.

Real estate investment trusts (Reits) were mostly higher. Among them, units of Lendlease Reit climbed one Singapore cent or 1.1 per cent to 93 cents after DBS Group Research initiated coverage in the retail property play with a "Buy" recommendation.

Sasseur Reit added 1.5 Singapore cents or 1.7 per cent to S$0.89 after indicating that it will be included in the FTSE EPRA Nareit Global Emerging Index from Dec 23. 

Among counters in the second line, iX Biopharma was one of the market's best performers, surging 5.3 Singapore cents or 26.9 per cent to close at S$0.25.

On Thursday after market close, the pharmaceutical company revealed that its unit was granted a cannabis manufacture licence from the Office of Drug Control in Australia. iX Biopharma has now secured all the required licences to manufacture, import and export medicinal cannabis.