The Singapore stock market has ticked lower in consecutive trading days, although it has given up just 5 points or 0.2 percent in that span. The Straits Times Index remained just above the 3,460-point plateau, although the market is poised to rebound on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is upbeat, thanks mainly to the rebound in crude oil prices that is fueling the energy sector. The European and U.S. markets ended higher and the Asian markets are also tipped to open in the green.

The STI finished barely lower on Thursday as losses from the plantations and financials were offset by support from the properties and industrials.

For the day, the index eased 0.38 points or 0.01 percent to finish at 3,460.30 after trading between 3,450.26 and 3,476.27. Volume was 3.04 billion shares worth 1.36 billion Singapore dollars. There were 272 gainers and 178 decliners, with 486 stocks finishing unchanged.

Among the actives, City Developments climbed 2.68 percent, while CapitaLand added 0.56 percent, DBS Group eased 0.245 percent, United Overseas Bank dipped 0.47 percent, Golden Agri-Resources jumped 1.15 percent, Noble Group plummeted 5.49 percent, Singapore Exchange advanced 1.01 percent, SembCorp spiked 1.81 percent and SingTel fell 0.23 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is cautiously optimistic as stocks ended slightly higher on Thursday, dragged to the upside by the energy sectors as crude rebounded from the previous day’s weakness.

The Dow rose 56.22 points or 0.3 percent to 17,958.73, while the NASDAQ climbed 23.74 points or 0.5 percent to 4,974.56 and the S&P 500 advanced 9.28 points or 0.5 percent to 2,091.18.

Reflecting the strength in the energy sector, the NYSE Arca Oil & Gas Index and the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index also added 1.9 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

The choppy trade came as traders continued to digest the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting, which showed that Fed officials were divided about when to begin raising interest rates. Some are calling for a rate hike in June even as others suggest waiting until next year.

Also in economic news, the Labor Department reported a rebound in initial jobless claims in the week ended April 4, although the four-week moving average dropped to a nearly fifteen-year low.

by RTT Staff Writer

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