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Singapore shares slip 0.2% on Monday as investors take profit

MARKETS in Asia got the week off to a mixed start following last week's broad rally as investors turned to profit-taking and looked for more clarity over US-China trade negotiations.

This came despite gains in the early session on the back of the US jobs report and hopes that Beijing's fiscal stimulus will support the Chinese economy.

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index (STI) retreated from gains in the previous week to slip 7.22 points or 0.2 per cent to close at 3,315.42, even though 13 of the 30 blue chips that make up the STI ended in the black.

Trading clocked in 1.0 billion securities, about 72 per cent of the daily average over the first two months of 2019. Total turnover came to S$894.96 million, 87 per cent of the January-to-February daily average.

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Gainers slightly outpaced losers 204 to 192.

Nico Steel was the bourse's most active counter for the second successive session with 89.1 million shares traded. Shares in the metals supplier went down a tick to close at 0.5 cent.

Meanwhile, Genting Singapore was the blue-chip index's most traded. Shares in the casino operator ended Monday's session dropping 0.5 Singapore cents or 0.5 per cent to close at S$0.98 with 29.6 million shares changing hands. Since last Wednesday's closing, the counter has fallen 9.2 per cent.

Going by value of trades done, United Overseas Bank saw S$122.94 million traded - 13.7 per cent of the bourse's value of securities traded - across 4.64 million shares. The bank's shares closed two Singapore cents or 0.1 per cent lower at S$26.50.

The other local banks were mixed with DBS Group Holdings dipping S$0.16 or 0.6 per cent down at S$26.82, while OCBC Bank gained one Singapore cent and 0.1 per cent to S$11.72.

Market watchers noted that the three local banks were all trading lower in the early session as investors took to profit taking after the trio averaged gains of 6.1 per cent across last week.

With Brent oil breaching US$70 per barrel during the Asian session, it was of little surprise that energy pennies were among the better performers on the day. Rex International shares finished 0.1 Singapore cent or 1.3 per cent up at eight cents and GSS Energy closed 0.2 Singapore cent or 1.9 per cent up at 10.6 cents.