Straits Times Index hits highest close since Nov 2010

SINGAPORE stocks surged to their highest levels in over two years today, as a mild regional rally spread to its shores.

This resulted in the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) soaring 26.15 points, or 0.80 per cent, to 3,285.90.

Some 4.2 billion shares worth $1.7 billion were traded.

Today's close was the STI's best finish since November 2010, bringing it within touching distance of the key 3,300 mark.

Market experts said the extra exuberance was provided by the S&P 500 - a US stock index which is keenly watched - breaching the crucial 1,500-point mark.

Slight gains overnight for Wall Street set the scene for a bright session in Asia.

The bull charge was most pronounced in Japan, where the Nikkei 225 jumped 2.28 per cent to reach its highest level since early 2010.

Hong Kong rose 0.71 per cent, Shanghai added 1 per cent, while Australia inched up 0.16 per cent.

Here, it was mainly a sea of green among the 30 STI component stocks, with 22 gainers, just two losers and six unchanged.

Index heavyweight SingTel was under the spotlight, after it agreed to sell its entire 30 per cent stake in Pakistan's Warid Telecom for an estimated loss of $230 million. SingTel added two cents to $3.49.

SMRT slumped four cents to $1.635 after it posted lower-than-expected third-quarter net profit a day earlier.

Fraser and Neave added a cent to $9.56, just above the $9.55 a share takeover price offered by the Thai group.

Thai Beverage jumped four cents to a record 53.5 cents as its chairman Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi moves a step closer to taking over F&N.

The day's most active counter was MDR Limited, which ended flat at two cents with 319.3 million units done.