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STI up for third consecutive day despite easing vaccine optimism

SINGAPORE shares rose again on Wednesday, even as investors dialled back on piling into pandemic-hit sectors.

The local blue chip benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) ended the day up 0.31 per cent or 8.28 points to 2,713.28. Across the broader market, losers outpaced gainers 254 to 207, with 2.41 billion securities worth S$2.09 billion changing hands.

Elsewhere in Asia, it was a mixed bag. Key benchmarks for Tokyo, Seoul and Jakarta ended Wednesday higher, and Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur were in the red.

Investors had on Tuesday scooped up shares in pandemic laggards following positive vaccine news from drug makers. However, some focus has since moved towards the potential challenges involved in the distribution of vaccines, as well as rising Covid-19 infections in some regions.

Against this backdrop, markets are expected to remain volatile, said analysts.

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OCBC Investment Research said in a report: "Market sentiment is likely to vacillate between optimism that the vaccine will rid the world of the virus, and fears that governments will enforce strict containment measures to contain its spread in the interim."

Among the STI's constituents, Dairy Farm International emerged as the top performer for the day, with shares gaining 5 per cent or US$0.23 to US$4.85.

At the bottom of the table was Ascendas Reit (real estate investment trust) which dipped 5 per cent or S$0.16 to S$3.03. This follows its launch of a S$1.2 billion equity fund-raising to finance the potential and proposed acquisition of data centres and office buildings overseas. It was also among the most heavily traded STI counters; more than 45.1 million shares changed hands.

Outside the STI, previous beneficiaries of the pandemic, such as glove and medical supply makers continued to register losses.

Singapore-listed property developer and soon-to-be glove-maker Aspen Holdings shed 11.5 per cent or S$0.03 to 23 Singapore cents; Medtecs International was down 9.3 per cent or 9.5 cents to 92.5 cents.

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