This week's trading in Singapore was one characterised by market watchers as largely range-bound. The Straits Times Index (STI) had either made small gains or losses, and at the week's close eked out a 9.34 point or 0.3 per cent gain from the previous Friday's close of 3,322.64.
Yesterday, trading opened following a lacklustre US session and lower-than-expected advance first-quarter estimates for the Singapore economy.
But while the blue-chip index managed to improve later in the session, possibly due to encouraging China trade figures for March, it needed a last-hour rally to close at 3,331.98, up just 1.16 points or 0.03 per cent.
IG market strategist Pan Jingyi said: "To some extent, the Chinese exports surprise had actually helped to ignite a slight uptick for the STI, though it remains to be seen whether the counteracting imports disappointment may suggest weakness into April."
Fourteen of the STI's 30 constituents ended the day in the black. Among them, the three local banks, which have a total weight of around 40 per cent of the STI, did the heavy lifting. DBS Group Holdings closed five cents or 0.2 per cent higher at $26.98, OCBC Bank edged up one cent or 0.1 per cent to $11.74, and United Overseas Bank ended 15 cents or 0.6 per cent higher at $26.68.
Genting Singapore remained the blue-chip index's most traded, ending the session flat at 96.5 cents with 43.4 million shares changing hands. The counter has shed 10.8 per cent since the opening of the April 3 trading session.
Across the Singapore market, decliners outpaced advancers 217 to 201. Trading clocked in at 1.25 billion securities, just under the daily average over the first three months this year. Total turnover came to $870.20 million, 85 per cent of the January-to-March daily average.
Pennies were in heavy play during yesterday's session. Jiutian Chemical was the bourse's most active counter with 50.3 million shares traded, adding 0.3 cent or 16.7 per cent to close at 2.1 cents.
Meanwhile, Imperium Crown closed 0.2 cent or 10.5 per cent higher at 2.1 cents, with 22.2 million shares exchanging hands.
UOB Kay Hian's vice-president of equities and financial products Brandon Leu commented that with the market continuing to "trade around its recent high, traders are somewhat bullish about the market prospects, taking on more risk, (going) into small-cap stocks".