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Singapore stocks close higher in response to Wall Street's Friday bounce

WALL Street's unexpected bounce on Friday helped add some stability to Asian markets on Monday, enabling the Straits Times Index (STI) to jump 58.1 points or 2.1 per cent to 2,851.25. Turnover however, remained low and concentrated in the 30 index stocks - the entire market traded just 1.1 billion units worth S$942 million of which S$697 million or 74 per cent was generated by STI components. Excluding warrants, there were 297 rises versus 121 falls throughout.

Brokers reported very little client business, most said that the index's bounce was done by "machines" a reference to programme trading by computers. The possibility that the index's rise was mainly through short sellers caught wrong-footed in a short squeeze was also raised.

Whatever the case, the US market's Friday bounce which came in the wake of a weak jobs report helped push up stocks - or forced programme traders to cover their shorts - in Hong Kong, China and Japan.

The Dow futures however, underwent an indifferent session, providing very little direction for traders in Asia, only rising 35 points at 5pm.

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Not surprisingly, the STI's rise was led by the banks, all of which rose sharply. Also contributing were Singtel, Wilmar International and Hongkong Land.