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Singapore shares open slightly higher on Friday; STI up 0.1% to 3,331.85

SINGAPORE stocks opened a tad higher on Friday tracking Wall Street overnight, with the Straits Times Index gaining 3.25 points, or 0.1 per cent to 3,331.85 as at 9.02am. 

This comes after US stocks mostly rose on Thursday, with investors closely tuned in to the political rhetoric on the US-China trade dispute ahead of the G-20 Summit, and the key meeting between the US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday.

Over in New York, the benchmark S&P 500 added 0.4 per cent, snapping its four-day losing streak, and closing within one per cent of its all-time high reached a week ago, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.7 per cent. But Boeing Co weighed on the Dow slightly, amid expectations that the 737 Max will remain out of service for longer, with the index dipping 0.04 per cent.

On the Singapore bourse, gainers edged out losers 55 to 48, after 79.9 million securities worth S$265.7 million exchanged hands. 

Among the most heavily traded by volume, Singtel rose 0.3 per cent, or one Singapore cent to S$3.49 on a cum dividend basis, with 10.4 million shares traded; while Golden Agri-Resources was flat at 31 Singapore cents, with 4.5 million shares traded. 

Financials traded mixed in the early morning session - OCBC gained 0.4 per cent or five Singapore cents to S$11.47, DBS rose 0.4 per cent or nine cents to S$25.92, and UOB dipped 0.1 per cent or three cents to S$26.10. 

Other active stocks included Ascendas Reit, which gained 1.3 per cent or four cents to S$3.12, and CapitaLand Commercial Trust, which added 0.9 per cent or two cents to S$2.18. 

CMC market analyst Margaret Yang noted that the Singapore market had a decent rebound this week, despite analysts' warnings that Singapore is heading for a recession next quarter.

"Banks, telcos and consumer staples continued to outperform, while the real estate sector suffered from profit-taking following the Fed's mixed signal on July interest rate cut outlook," added Ms Yang. 

In a research note on Thursday, DBS Group Research also upgraded its rating on Koufu Group to "buy", raising its target price on the food court and coffee shop operator to S$0.85, from S$0.80 previously. 

The revised target price represents a 26 per cent upside from the counter's closing price of S$0.675 as at June 27. This comes as DBS expects Koufu to post higher net earnings growth of 8.8 per cent in FY19, driven by the turnaround of its foodcourt and kiosk businesses.

Elsewhere in Asia, equities slipped on below average volumes on Friday, as a cautious mood prevailed ahead of the highly anticipated Trump-Xi meeting on Saturday, that could determine the next chapter in the trade war between the world's two largest economies.

Japan's Topix fell 0.4 per cent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng dipped 0.5 per cent, and China's Shanghai Composite lost 0.6 per cent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index retreated 0.2 per cent, while South Korea's Kospi declined 0.3 per cent. 

In the commodities space, oil prices held steady with Brent crude futures up five US cents, or 0.08 per cent to US$66.60 per barrel, while the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell two US cents, or 0.03 per cent to US$59.41 a barrel.

Gold prices also rose on Friday, and is headed for its sixth weekly gain in a row, data from Reuters show. 

Spot gold was up 0.6 per cent to US$1,418.21 per ounce as at 9.15am, and US gold futures climbed 0.7 per cent to US$1,422.20 an ounce. The metal has risen more than one per cent this week to be up 11 per cent over the past six weeks. 

Stephen Innes, managing partner at Vanguard Markets, noted on Friday that the "gold fever is back!" though the gold price action remains a bit of an enigma today, as the Asian market seems to be running against the grain that appeared to be more biased towards selling.  

That being said, he highlighted that there remains "a lot of headroom" for this rally to extend into the second half of the year.