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Singapore stocks muted ahead of Chinese New Year; STI opens 0.02% higher

SINGAPORE shares were little changed on Friday morning, after the Republic confirmed its first case of the Wuhan virus overnight.

However, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted in his annual Chinese New Year Message that the virus does not appear to be as deadly as the Sars outbreak in 2003.

The benchmark Straits Times Index inched up 0.72 points or 0.02 per cent to 3235.28 as at 9.01am on Friday. Decliners outnumbered advancers 56 to 44, after about 53.1 million shares worth S$66.9 million changed hands.

Among the most heavily traded by volume, Thai Beverage was flat at S$0.79 with 11.4 million shares traded, while Medtecs International was unchanged at S$0.105, with 7.9 million shares traded. 

Banking stocks were mixed in the early morning trade. DBS gained S$0.10, or 0.4 per cent to S$26.35, United Overseas Bank slipped seven Singapore cents, or 0.3 per cent to S$26.30, and OCBC Bank fell one Singapore cent, or 0.1 per cent to S$11.10.

Other active stocks included AEM which rose five Singapore cents, or 2.4 per cent to S$2.10, and CapitaLand Mall Trust which gained four Singapore cents, or 1.6 per cent to S$2.61 on a cum-dividend basis. 

Over in the US, most stocks rebounded to close higher after the World Health Organization said it was "too early" to declare the spread of the Wuhan virus as a global emergency.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.1 per cent to 3,325.54, and the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 0.2 per cent to close at 9,402.48. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 0.1 per cent lower at 29,160.06.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan's Topix index added 0.1 per cent, while Australian stocks rose 0.3 per cent as investors await more updates on the coronavirus outbreak.