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Singapore stocks rally 0.8% on Friday amid Sino-US trade optimism

STOCKS in Asia rallied strongly on Friday to end the week on a high note as hopes of progress in US-China trade talks lifted risk appetite.

Some regional bourses posted their best showing in weeks while in Singapore, the session's gains more than made up for the week's earlier losses. The Straits Times Index jumped 0.79 per cent or 24.49 points on Friday to end the week at 3,113.97. This is 35.61 points or 1.16 per cent higher than last Friday’s close of 3,078.36.

Gainers outnumbered losers 273 to 122, or two up for every counter down, after 1.3 billion securities worth S$924.72 million changed hands.

Of the index's 30 counters, almost all closed on higher ground, barring decliners like Thai Beverage and Jardine Matheson Holdings.

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Amid high-level trade negotiations with China in Washington, US President Donald Trump had highlighted to markets that talks had gone "very well" and will continue into Friday, in contrast to earlier fears that the talks might end early. He also tweeted on Thursday that he is set to meet with Vice-Premier Liu He on Friday, raising expectations that progress could be made on the trade front, especially ahead of impending US tariffs on some Chinese goods later this year.

But before investors get too caught up in the risk-on mood, economists from DBS Group Research warned that the latest developments are unlikely to mark the beginning of a major turnaround.

"A trade deal can only offer interim relief on China-US matters as the antagonism between the two superpowers is in fact widening," they wrote on Friday, pointing out that the decision by Washington this week to blacklist some Chinese companies and restrict the visas of some Chinese diplomats on human rights grounds shows "many areas of confrontation" have opened up beyond agriculture purchases and market access.

Back home, local lender United Overseas Bank (UOB) and high-tech manufacturer Venture Corporation led gains on Friday. UOB put on 1.69 per cent or S$0.43 to S$25.92, while Venture Corp added 1.38 per cent or S$0.21 to S$15.38.