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Singapore shares soar on US election high; STI up 1.4%

SINGAPORE stocks were pulled into positive territory on Thursday morning, tracking gains on Wall Street and Europe overnight as investors awaited results from the US presidential election that has proven far closer than the polls had predicted.

On the Singapore bourse, the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) jumped 33.97 points or 1.4 per cent to 2,549.95 as at 9.01am on Thursday. Gainers outnumbered losers 110 to 29, after about 51.7 million securities worth S$69.2 million changed hands.

Among the index securities, the most heavily traded by volume was Thai Beverage which was flat at S$0.63 with three million shares traded and Mapletree Commercial Trust which rose S$0.03 or 1.6 per cent to S$1.86, with 2.3 million units traded.

Amid a sea of green, banking stocks surged in the early morning trade. DBS gained S$0.37 or 1.7 per cent to S$21.92, UOB added S$0.36 or 1.8 per cent to S$20.16, while OCBC rose S$0.16 or 1.9 per cent to S$8.79.

Singapore banks posted lower profits for the third quarter of this year from a year ago, as the trio continued to bulk up provisions to cushion against bad loans as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. Nonetheless, Q3 profits are mostly up over the quarter, pointing to a recovery in business momentum as regional economies emerge from lockdowns, The Business Times wrote on Thursday.

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Meanwhile, chemical producer Jiutian Chemical gained 0.3 Singapore cent or 2.9 per cent to 10.5 cents. UOB Kay Hian has initiated coverage on the counter with a "buy" rating and a target price of 16 cents.

Other active counters included ST Engineering which was up S$0.08 or 2.3 per cent to S$3.63.

Sembcorp Industries also gained S$0.05 or 3.1 per cent to S$1.69 and CapitaLand rose S$0.03 or 1.2 per cent to S$2.59. The two companies and SP Group on Thursday said they have teamed up to jointly study the use of integrated energy solutions to power data centres.

Over on Wall Street, US stocks ended solidly higher on Wednesday as markets digested the latest developments in the US presidential contest and apparently shrugged off the risk of legal challenges by President Donald Trump. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 1.3 per cent to finish at 27,847.66, rising for a third straight session. Meanwhile, the broad-based S&P 500 gained 2.2 per cent to 3,443.44, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 3.9 per cent to close at 11,590.78.

Margaret Yang, a strategist at DailyFX, noted that US equities were in "risk-on" mode, as election results leaned to a Biden-win and a divided Congress, with the rising odds of a Democratic presidency boosting sentiment.

Overnight, Democratic challenger Joe Biden had extended his lead over Mr Trump and boosted his chances of taking the White House after winning Wisconsin and Michigan - flipping both states won by Mr Trump back in 2016.

European stocks closed with strong gains on Wednesday, with the healthcare sector rallying 4.9 per cent and technology stocks surging 3 per cent. The pan-European Stoxx 600 index swung 2.1 per cent higher by the closing bell after a turbulent open and falling as much as 1.3 per cent at one point.

Elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo stocks opened higher on Thursday tracking Wall Street gains. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was up 0.7 per cent or 163.79 points to 23,859.02 in early trade, while the broader Topix index advanced 0.2 per cent or 3.7 points to 1,630.95.

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