* Index down 0.03 percent, seen in 3,155-3,177 in afternoon
* Noble Group up after launching $1.5 bln loan facility
By Charmian Kok
SINGAPORE, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Singapore shares were largely flat in the morning session on Friday, as investors stayed on the sidelines ahead of key U.S. jobs data expected later in the day.
The telecommunications sector .FTFSTAS6000 rose 0.76 percent, outperforming the broader market as investors increased positions in more defensive plays amid uncertainty over the pace of the global economic recovery.
“The market has been on the high side recently, so investors are more cautious going forward and focusing on laggards and more defensive plays today, like telcos,” said Gabriel Gan, senior vice president of equity sales at AmFraser Securities.
By the midday break, the Straits Times Index (STI) .FTSTI was down 0.98 points at 3,165.67. Total market volume was one billion shares.
“Tonight we’ll have very important unemployment figures coming, so many people are choosing to wait this out first,” said Gan.
The STI is expected to consolidate with a downward bias in a narrow 3,155-3,177 point band during the afternoon, a local trader said.
Commodity firm Noble Group (NOBG.SI) also gained as much as 2.5 percent at S$2.03 by the lunch break after launching a $1.5 billion revolving loan facility. [ID:nSGE69702M]
Chinese mushroom grower Yamada Green Resources (YAMR.SI) jumped 84 percent by the midday break to S$0.405 on its market debut, after it said its initial public offering was 5.3 times subscribed. [ID:nSGC003769]
Reporting by Charmian Kok, editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan