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Singapore stocks: STI resumes Wednesday afternoon at 3,216.06, up 0.2% on day

SINGAPORE stocks resumed trading in positive territory on Wednesday, with the Straits Times Index gaining 0.2 per cent, or 6.48 points to 3,216.06, as at 1.03pm.

This comes even as private-sector economists further lowered their 2019 growth forecast for Singapore to 2.1 per cent, down from 2.5 per cent, in the Monetary Authority of Singapore's latest quarterly survey of professional forecasters.

On the Singapore bourse, losers outnumbered gainers 171 to 135, after about 791 million shares worth S$460.3 million exchanged hands.

Among the most heavily traded by volume, Thomson Medical was up 1.7 per cent, or 0.1 Singapore cent to six cents, with 13.8 million shares traded, while YZJ Shipbuilding gained 0.7 per cent, or one cent to S$1.45, with 12.3 million shares traded.

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Following the midday break, all three banking stocks were in the green - UOB gained 0.8 per cent, or 19 Singapore cents to S$24.72, DBS rose 0.7 per cent, or 18 cents to S$24.86, and OCBC edged up 0.2 per cent, or two cents to S$10.83.

Other active stocks included Venture Corp which edged up 1.8 per cent, or 29 Singapore cents to S$16.40, and AEM which lost 1.5 per cent, or 1.5 cents to S$0.975.

Elsewhere, Asian equities ticked lower amid signs of buyer fatigue and political concerns, with Hong Kong shares leading the decline. This comes after tens of thousands of protesters stormed main roads outside the government headquarters in Admiralty, and blocked key downtown routes to show their opposition against a controversial extradition bill that would allow people to be extradited to mainland China for trial.

Stocks in the city tumbled and the currency soared. The Hang Seng Index fell 2 per cent as at 2.45pm, with local property developers among the biggest losers, while the Hong Kong dollar strengthened as much as 0.2 per cent, the largest gain in seven months.

Stephen Innes, managing partner at Vanguard Markets, noted that investors remain "spooked the extradition bill could have far-reaching consequences for attracting overseas talent, and does question the viability of Hong Kong as a leading financial hub".

Meanwhile, Japan's Topix and South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.2 per cent each, and China's Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.6 per cent, as weak factory inflation data from Beijing and prospects of an escalation in the US-China trade war curbed risk appetite.

Among the regional markets, Australia was the only bright spot to record a 0.1 per cent rise in its S&P/ASX 200 Index by the afternoon trade.

On the commodities front, chatter of global rate cuts kept gold near 14-month highs at US$1,335.51 per ounce, data from Reuters shows.

Meanwhile, oil prices fell by almost 2 per cent on Wednesday, dragged lower by a weaker demand outlook, and a rise in US crude inventories, despite growing expectations of Opec-led supply cuts.

Benjamin Lu, commodities analyst at Phillips Futures in Singapore noted that oil prices have shown "bearish biases" as traders fear weaker global oil demand, amid global trade uncertainties.

Brent crude futures fell 98 US cents to US$61.31, while US crude lost 92 US cents to US$52.35 a barrel.