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Singapore stocks advance at Monday's open; STI up 0.5%

SINGAPORE shares rose when trading began at the start of the week, after Friday's General Election (GE), with the key Straits Times Index gaining 12.85 points or 0.5 per cent to 2,665.50 as at 9am.

The ruling People's Action Party (PAP) won only 61.24 per cent of the votes in GE2020, a sharp decline from the 69.9 per cent it achieved in 2015, and only slightly better than the 60.1 per cent in 2011. It also unexpectedly lost control of a second GRC to the opposition Workers' Party (WP).

While the PAP may not have gained as strong a mandate as desired in Friday's GE, this is unlikely to put off investors, who can expect Singapore's stability and economic policy direction to continue, economists and business groups told The Business Times (BT).

On the Singapore bourse, gainers outnumbered losers 122 to 48 on Monday morning, after about 128.2 million securities worth S$78.1 million changed hands.

Among the index securities, the most heavily traded by volume was CapitaLand Mall Trust, which gained S$0.02 or 1 per cent to S$2.04, with 2.8 million units traded, while CapitaLand Commercial Trust added S$0.03 or 1.7 per cent to S$1.79, with 2.7 million units traded.

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Banking stocks were mixed in the early session of trading. DBS gained S$0.19 or 0.9 per cent to S$21.84, United Overseas Bank rose S$0.07 or 0.3 per cent to S$21.07, while OCBC Bank lost S$0.01 or 0.1 per cent to S$9.24.

Mike Ng, head of structured finance and sustainable finance at OCBC, told BT that Covid-19 will not have a long-term impact on the lender's sustainable financing ambitions, even as companies' attentions are now diverted to immediate issues as they struggle with the pandemic fallout.

Separately, ground handler and food solutions provider SATS sank S$0.07 or 2.4 per cent to S$2.81. This comes after the company last week posted a fourth-quarter net loss of S$6.3 million against earnings of S$49.9 million a year ago.

Biolidics surged S$0.11 or 26.8 per cent to S$0.52. Shares of the Catalist-listed firm jumped 35.5 per cent on Thursday afternoon, after the company announced a tie-up with China's LC-Bio to develop cancer-diagnostic solutions the day before.

Over on Wall Street, US equities rose last Friday propped up by financials. The Dow gained 1.4 per cent, the S&P 500 advanced 1.1 per cent, while the Nasdaq Composite added 0.7 per cent.

Elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo stocks opened stronger on Monday, extending the Wall Street rally last week and on fresh hopes for coronavirus treatments. Both the Nikkei 225 index and the broader Topix gained about 1.3 per cent each.

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