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Investors wait for news from Fed

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Lack of market catalysts leads to dull session, STI closes down 0.4%

Yesterday's Asian session was lacking in market catalysts.

Investors preferred to stay on the sidelines ahead of the release of minutes from the US Federal Reserve's July meeting and its chairman Jerome Powell's Jackson Hole speech.

The Straits Times Index (STI) gave back some of its early-week gains when it opened, before trading flat for the rest of the session and closing at 3,122.57, down 13.38 points or 0.4 per cent.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, markets were mixed with Australia, China, Japan and Malaysia ending lower. Hong Kong and South Korea bucked the trend, posting slight gains.

A lower opening for most Asian benchmarks surprised few after Wall Street snapped three sessions of gains, on global growth pains and concerns over where the US-China trade relationship was veering to next.

"Apart from the early dip on concerns that the US president is not ready to work towards a deal with China, trading was rather directionless," one dealer observed.

"With the markets in a constant state of flux these days, moving between hot and cold, it's hard to imagine that much open risk-taking is going on," wrote VM Markets managing partner Stephen Innes.

The question, he added, was whether investors should stay hedged or stay away?

There are reasons to stay cautious, with remisier Ernest Lim saying markets are "not out of the woods yet", with gains earlier this week likely to be a technical bounce in oversold markets.

He attributed the rebound to the temporary downplaying of negative developments like weak economic data and recent worries of the bond yield inversions, among others.

Also, market participants continue to pin hope on central banks cutting rates to stem the global economic slowdown.

In Singapore, trading volume clocked in at 1.05 billion securities, 88 per cent of the daily average in the first seven months of 2019. Total turnover came to $1.01 billion, 95 per cent of the January-to-July daily average.

Across the market, decliners edged out advancers 190 to 182.

The blue-chip index had 22 of the 30 counters in the red.


On 77.9 million shares traded, Thai Beverage was the blue-chip index's most active, advancing 3.5 cents or 3.9 per cent to close at 92.5 cents. The food and beverage player continues to be STI's top performer in 2019, up by 51.6 per cent.

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding continued to see sizeable activity since trading resumed last Thursday, closing 0.5 cent or 0.5 per cent lower at 96.5 cents on 49.7 million shares traded.

The local banks ended modestly lower. DBS Group Holdings eased 13 cents or 0.5 per cent to $24.58; OCBC Bank dipped three cents or 0.3 per cent to $10.66; and United Overseas Bank ended at $24.76, down 23 cents or 0.9 per cent.

Shares in Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) were up four cents or 1.9 per cent to $2.15; while SPH Reit gained two cents or 1.9 per cent to $1.09.

This follows the manager of SPH Reit announcing a $1 billion multicurrency debt issuance programme, where proceeds could be used for acquisitions.

ESR Reit shares added one cent or 2 per cent to close at 52 cents, after Citi Research initiated coverage on the Singapore-focused industrial real estate investment trust. Among penny stocks, Synagie gained 0.8 cent or 5 per cent to 16.8 cents on 19 million shares traded after the e-commerce solutions provider said it would provide brand store management services for Alibaba-backed Lazada's platform across South-east Asia.

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