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Singapore stocks close 0.6% higher

SINGAPORE shares began the week on a positive note, buoyed by encouraging domestic data and as major economies started to gradually unwind last month’s full lockdown measures.

The key Straits Times Index rose 15.73 points or 0.62 per cent to finish at 2,539.28 on Monday. Elsewhere, key gauges in Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea posted modest gains. Gold traded at its the highest in seven years, while crude oil surged to over US$30 a barrel for the first time since March.

UK’s FTSE and Germany’s DAX were up more than 2 per cent each and the futures pointed towards a firmer open for US bourses.

Singapore’s non-oil domestic exports (NODX) unexpectedly rose for a third straight month in April. This could suggest that manufacturing may escape a recession and be spared by the city state’s circuit-breaking measures, although analysts were quick to warn that it is premature to conclude the sector is out of the woods.

Market sentiment has been holding up in recent weeks despite a string of weak economic data (especially on the labour market front), amid easing lockdowns which imbue hope for a return of some semblance of normalcy and that economic activity will tick higher.

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OCBC’s "Market Stress Index" shows that global market anxiety is now at just a third of the peak level in late March. OCBC economist Wellian Wiranto warned: “While encouraging, a host of potential bugbears remains on the horizon and continues to demand a close watch. The risk of new waves of infection is still breathing down our neck. So does any escalation of US-China tensions.”

At the local bourse, some 1.67 billion shares worth S$1.02 billion traded. Gainers outpaced losers with 20 counters up and nine down.

Among the index’s constituents, Singapore’s three banking stalwarts led the gains, contributing 5.6 index points. UOB led the gains, adding 11 Singapore cents or 0.6 per cent to S$19.51.

Losses were led by Singapore Airlines, which fell 18 Singapore cents or 4.6 per cent to S$3.72.

The most active was Forise International, with 114 million shares worth S$1.3 million exchanging hands. The stock gained 0.1 Singapore cent to one Singapore cent after the company announced that it had won a management consulting services contract to help a logistics company based in the United Arab Emirates.

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