SINGAPORE, July 24 (Xinhua) -- Singapore shares closed 0.39 percent higher on Thursday, buoyed by a surprisingly strong reading on Chinese manufacturing that bolstered hopes for recovery in the world's second-biggest economy.
The HSBC China's purchasing managers' index came in at 52.0 for July, well above market average forecasts of a small rise to 51 in July and the highest reading in 18 months.
Meanwhile, helping sentiment is that the U.S. earnings season is turning out better than first feared. Apple Incorporated delivered a decent quarterly result, easing concerns about the iPhone maker's profit margins. Facebook also beat analysts' forecasts and its stock climbed overnight.
The benchmark Straits Times Index rose 13.19 points to close at 3,353.89 points. Trading volume was 1.67 billion shares worth 1.03 billion Singapore dollars. Advancers outnumbered decliners 233 to 191, while 518 stocks closed unchanged
DBS Group Research said "we expect a more muted trading activity in the current session given the gains the past 3 session for the Straits Times Index and with the long weekend approaching. Currently at 3,340 points, we are watchful of a consolidation off the 3,365 points level."
But Phillip Securities Research said market bias is to the upside especially if U.S. markets do not go through a major correction. Local stock prices should have further upside as long as the market support at 3,230 points holds.
Among top actives, Valuetronics Holdings Limited soared 13.6 percent to 58.5 Singapore cents. DBS Group Research initiate coverage on the stock with "Buy" rating and target price of 72 Singapore cents, saying its current price valuation is attractive plus 6 percent dividend yield. Furthermore, its business growth is backed by U.S. and Europe recovery.
Ascendas REIT gained 0.9 percent to 2.35 Singapore dollars. It reported its first-quarter distribution per unit was 3.64 Singapore cents, up 2.5 percent on-year. The quarterly revenue and net property income both also rose by 8 percent on-year to 163.3 million Singapore dollars and 116.3 million Singapore dollars, respectively.
Among the top gainers, City Development Limited rose 1.6 percent to 10.59 Singapore dollars, whereas Jardine Cycle and Carriage became one of the top losers by falling 0.7 percent to 46. 55 Singapore dollars. (1 U.S. dollar equals to 1.24 Singapore dollars)