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Singapore shares open higher on second vaccine progress; STI up 0.9%

SINGAPORE shares opened higher on Tuesday as investors cheered progress on a second coronavirus vaccine candidate.

The Straits Times Index (STI) gained 24.67 points or 0.9 per cent to 2,772.67 as at 9.05am.

Gainers outnumbered losers 132 to 44, after 149.3 million securities worth S$151.7 million changed hands.

Sembcorp Marine was the most traded counter by volume in the morning, rising 0.3 Singapore cent or 2.3 per cent to 13.4 cents after 11.5 million shares were traded.

Other actives included Genting Singapore, up 1.5 Singapore cents or 1.9 per cent to 82 cents, with 6.9 million shares traded. Its shares had surged on Monday, boosted by a quarter-on-quarter turnaround in the integrated resort operator's bottom line.

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Medtecs International fell S$0.06 or 6.1 per cent to S$0.93 after 4.8 million shares changed hands. Its shares ended Monday higher after it announced plans to transfer its listing from Catalist to the mainboard of the Singapore Exchange.

Meanwhile, Blumont Group shares remained flat at 0.2 Singapore cent after businessman Mark Wee Liang Yee had triggered a mandatory unconditional cash offer to buy out the mainboard-listed investment holding company.

Among local lenders, DBS rose S$0.37 or 1.5 per cent to S$24.59, UOB gained S$0.16 or 0.7 per cent to S$21.90 and OCBC increased S$0.08 or 0.8 per cent to S$9.79.

US biotech firm Moderna said on Monday its experimental vaccine was 94.5 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19 based on interim data from a late-stage clinical trial, becoming the second US company in a week to report results that far exceed expectations.

Progress on the vaccine helped offset potential negative sentiment brought by a shock fall in Singapore's October exports. Non-oil domestic exports lost 3.1 per cent year on year, reversing the 5.8 per cent increase in September.

The drop disappointed private-sector projections of 5.1 per cent growth in a Bloomberg poll, and came as a trade boost from non-monetary gold evaporated.

In the US, stocks rocketed higher on Monday with the Dow and S&P 500 ending at records as progress on Moderna's coronavirus vaccine candidate boosted confidence in the economic recovery.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average packed on around 470 points or 1.6 per cent to finish at 29,950.44, easily topping its prior all-time high. The broad-based S&P 500 gained 1.2 per cent to 3,626.91, finishing at a second straight record, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.8 per cent to 11,924.13.

Elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo stocks opened higher. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index added 0.4 per cent or 108.93 points to 26,015.86 in early trade, while the broader Topix index gained 0.2 per cent or 3.89 points to 1,735.70.

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