Singapore's stock market marginally higher in midday trading

SINGAPORE - The benchmark Straits Times index was up around 0.2 per cent or 6.87 points at 3,419.31 at 1.18pm. Some 495.5 million shares worth $508.7 million changed hands.

Although the local market is up, some of the other Asian markets are trading higher.

Market participants say the market has been bracing itself for news of the passing of former pime minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew, 91, who died early Monday morning at 3.18 am.

"The market is more muted. This could be related to the passing of Mr Lee. He has been in hospital since February. So when his condition became more serious, the market began bracing itself. The volume today is not as high as usual but the market has had time to factor this in," remisier Desmond Leong said.

"The STI went up by as much as 17 points at one point," remisier Alvin Yong said. "Singapore is underperforming compared with the rest of Asia, but not by that much."

Asian stocks are buoyant following the US Federal Reserve's meeting last week which suggests that it will proceed more slowly with interest-rate hikes.

Shanghai advanced 1.63 per cent amid investor optimism the Chinese government will take action to bolster growth in the world's second-largest economy. The Hang Seng Index gained 0.57 per cent. Japan jumped 1.01 per cent. But South Korea was only up 0.01 percent and Australia was trading 0.3 percent lower.

Meanwhile, commodities trader Noble Group was the most actively traded stock by mid-day, up 4 per cent or 3.5 cents to 91 cents, with 44 million shares traded. Noble, the target of reports by Iceberg Research, said Monday morning it plans to start legal proceedings after the little-known anonymous research blog accused it of inflating profits and understating its debt.

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