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Singapore stocks: STI resumes Thursday afternoon down 0.3% at 3,131.86

THE local market returned from Wednesday's break trading moderately lower as trade tensions and growth worries continued to put a dent on sentiment.

Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) was trading at 3,131.86, down 10.51 points or 0.3 per cent, as at 1.04pm on Thursday.

Shortly after the afternoon session commenced, volume on the Singapore bourse clocked in at 630.5 million securities traded and a total turnover of S$707.6 million. Volume and turnover were on track to hit their respective averages over the first four months of the year.

Across the market, decliners edged out advancers 168 to 162. Meanwhile, the benchmark index had 18 of the STI's 30 components trading in the red.

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Genting Singapore, unchanged at S$0.86, was the benchmark index's most traded stock with 29.1 million shares changing hands. Traders noted that the casino operator's shares hovering around an eight-month low, and valuations were below five year averages.

Singtel shares continued to trend upwards, adding S$0.03 or 0.9 per cent up at S$3.24. The telco has been outperforming the bluechip index in recent weeks as investors continue to shift to more defensively positioned equity portfolios.

The local banks returned from the midweek break lower. DBS Group Holdings was S$0.15 or 0.6 per cent lower at S$24.12, OCBC Bank dropped S$0.06 or 0.6 per cent to S$10.57 and United Overseas Bank traded at S$23.95, down S$0.05 or 0.2 per cent.

Investors continued to pick up units in real estate investment trusts (Reits) as the US Federal Reserve could be looking to a rate cut to sustain the US's economic expansion.

Among the top gainers were CapitaLand Mall Trust (up S$0.06 or 2.4 per cent up at S$2.52) and Ascendas Reit (S$0.03 or one per cent higher at S$2.93).

Oil and gas players in the local market like Rex International (up 0.1 Singapore cent or 1.6 per cent up to 6.5 cents) and GSS Energy (up 0.3 Singapore cent or 4.4 per cent to 7.2 cents) were trading higher.

Oil prices have rebounded slightly after continuing its slide in a bear market. CMC Markets' analyst Margaret Yang noted that Brent oil is "in a deep correction phase" and is showing signs of being temporarily oversold, with a possible technical rebound in the near term.

Among non-STI counters, Creative Technology shares were trading S$0.13 or 3.6 per cent up at S$3.79.

With investors still looking for clarity over economic outlook and trade issues, regional markets were mixed.

Asian markets are looking to tiptoe higher with growing hopes of a Fed rate cut hopes to bolster risk sentiment, ING Asia economist Prakash Sakpal noted.

Australia was up 0.6 per cent and Hong Kong up 0.2 per cent. China was down 0.5 per cent and Japan dropped 0.2 per cent. Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea markets are closed.