LONDON (CNNfn) - Singapore stocks brought a shine to a dull day of trading in Asia Wednesday. The Straits Times index put on an afternoon spurt to climb more than 2 percent as Tokyo and Hong Kong both failed to make major advances.
Regional stocks mostly moved within a tight range on the back of stalling equity markets across Europe and in the United States.
Japan and Hong Kong closed up less than 1 percent while Australia and Taiwan closed about 1 percent lower. The Philippines finished down 2.5 percent while Indonesia was broadly firm.
Korea climbed more than 3 percent as Malaysian and Thai stocks added more than 2 percent.
Of the major markets Singapore was far and away the best performer. The Straits Times index advanced 2.22 percent or 30.98 points to 1,424.59.
Stocks were boosted in afternoon trade. Heavyweight stock Singapore Press Holdings led the way, adding 40 cents to S$17.8.
Banks were also higher. DBS climbed 40 cents to S$7.85 while OCBC added 75 cents to S$6.9.
In Japan, the benchmark Nikkei average moved 0.84 percent or 123.7 points ahead to 14,931.9.
The index was again left shy of the 15,000 point level, which has become a psychological barrier looming large over the market, according to Robert Sasaki, head of Jardine Fleming's quantitative strategy group.
"It was very, very quiet," he said. "Most of the movement came in the last 15 minutes."
Pulp and paper was the best performing sector, but financial stocks also held up well again.
Construction company Shokusan Jutaku was the biggest decliner, losing 31 percent to 40 yen amid fears about its financial strength.
Hard disk drive manufacturer NHK Spring rose 3.69 percent to 421 yen in the day's heaviest trade.
Auto stocks did well. Nissan climbed 2.6 percent to 397 yen while Honda added 2.33 percent to 4,400.
Hong Kong came in from the cold to climb 0.1 percent or 10.21 points to 10,361.29.
Heavyweight HSBC Holdings supported the index, adding 1.78 percent to HK$200. But developers were mixed.
Sun Hung Properties lost 2.58 percent to HK$56.75 but New World Development rose 10 cents to HK$19.45.
Only mainland-owned Shanghai Industrial made a major move. It added about 9 percent on the back of rumors it is going to withdraw from a deal to buy some hotels off its parent company.
"It was very, very low volume," said one trader.
With corporate restructuring among Korea's archaic chaebol conglomerates gathering pace, Seoul stocks continued to advance. The KOSPI index climbed 3.27 percent.
But Australia lost 0.78 percent to 2,750 points, Taiwan dipped 1.31 percent and the Philippines dived 2.56 percent. Indonesia ended down a barely noticeable 0.03 percent.
Malaysia closed up 2.22 percent while Thailand finished more than 2.5 percent ahead.