Traders hold fire due to Fed meet

SINGAPORE shares dropped for the fourth straight session in another choppy day across Asia.

Much of the current sluggishness has been down to investor caution around the Federal Reserve meeting, which ended overnight. But analysts do not see reasons to be optimistic emerging any time soon.

The benchmark Straits Times Index yesterday closed 19.94 points or 0.69 per cent lower at 2,874.72, with 924.1 million shares worth $802.6 million transacted.

The wait for more clarity from the Fed April meeting outcome is all about deciphering the meeting statement out this morning, IG analyst Bernard Aw said.

But whatever the meeting portends, economic and business headwinds still persist, he added, noting: "The global growth outlook remains uncertain and I don't expect a lot of upside for Singapore corporate earnings this year."

This was reflected in the latest economic review by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, which noted yesterday that the growth outlook for the country's key trading partners "has weakened discernibly".

Only 10 STI constituent stocks rose yesterday as investors assessed the uncertain market backdrop. Genting Singapore added 2.5 cents or 3.03 per cent to close at 85 cents, and Thai Beverage rose two cents or 2.74 per cent to 75 cents.

Keppel Corp added one cent or 0.18 per cent to $5.51, as crude oil futures Brent recovered further to above US$46 a barrel - the highest level seen so far this year - on the back of the weaker greenback.

Sembcorp Marine, however, dropped half a cent or 0.3 per cent to $1.67, ahead of its announcement - after the market had closed - that it had registered poorer results.

SembMarine was one of 18 STI counters that ended in the red yesterday, with Jardine Cycle & Carriage paring $1.57 or 3.69 per cent to $41.

CapitaLand Mall Trust lost six cents or 2.8 per cent to $2.08 as investors took profit on the counter's gain on Tuesday.

CapitaLand Commercial Trust slid three cents or 2.07 per cent to $1.42.

Suntec Reit yesterday closed down 4.5 cents or 2.65 per cent at $1.655, and Keppel Reit shed half a cent or 0.48 per cent to $1.04.

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