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Singapore stocks: STI resumes Thursday afternoon at 3,129.36, down 0.2% on day

SINGAPORE equities and their regional counterparts may have got an early week boost from strong US bank earnings, but the reality of slowing global growth and that US-China related headlines played more of a role in driving sentiment on Thursday, resulting in a mixed session.

The local benchmark, the Straits Times Index (STI) was trading at 3,129.36, down 5.35 points or 0.2 per cent as at 1.04pm.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, Australia, Malaysia and South Korea were lower. China was flat while Hong Kong and Japan posted gains. Among them, the Hang Seng Index was the best performer, lifted by hopes of more stimulus to beef up the territory's economy after months of protests have dragged growth.

IG market strategist Pan Jingyi said: "Amid the mixed picture painted from both US earnings and economic data, and the noise swivelling within markets from both US-China relations and Brexit, Asia markets look to chart its own course into the session."

She noted that regional equities have been "exhibiting a certain sense of resilience despite the latest threat of retaliation from China on the US’s interest to pass the pro-democracy bill on Hong Kong" but investors continued to be cautious.

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Shortly after the afternoon session commenced, volume on the Singapore bourse clocked in at 396.47 million securities traded and a total turnover of S$394.23 million. Both are on track to miss their respective nine-month daily averages.

Across the market, decliners outpaced advancers 162 to 121. The bluechip index had 17 of the 30 counters in trading in the red.

Mapletree Commercial Trust (MCT) was the STI's most active counter, adding four Singapore cents or 1.7 per cent to S$2.38 on 15.3 million units changing hands. Units are trading on a cum dividend and cum rights basis.

On Wednesday, MCT proposed an equity fundraising comprising of 406.5 million new units to raise at least S$902.3 million to partially fund the S$1.55 billion acquisition of Mapletree Business City (Phase 2). The real estate investment trust (Reit) on Thursday priced private placement units at S$2.28 per new unit, while preferential placement units were offered at S$2.24.

Among other Reits, Keppel Reit, which after market close on Wednesday reported a Q3 distribution per unit growth of 2.9 per cent to 1.4 Singapore cents, gained one Singapore cent or 0.8 per cent to S$1.25.

Analysts have maintained their "buy" calls on the Reit after net property income rose 17.6 per cent to S$33.2 million for Q3 thanks to higher rents, and contribution from its Seoul tower acquisition in May.

There was also increased activity on the City Developments Limited counter, with the property player's stock adding 35 Singapore cents or 3.5 per cent to trade at S$10.23.

It was a mixed picture for Singapore's bellwether banking trio. DBS Group Holdings shares dipped S$0.10 or 0.4 per cent to S$24.95. Meanwhile, the other two notched up slight gains. OCBC Bank edged up one Singapore cent or 0.1 per cent higher to S$10.87 and United Overseas Bank traded at S$26.02, up two cents or 0.1 per cent.

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