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Singapore shares flat as Asian key bourses rally

SINGAPORE – Local shares nearly missed the rally in key Asian indices after a choppy session on Friday, but managed a late rally to end the session in the black but only just.

The Straits Times Index (STI) inched up 0.36 points or a mere 0.01 per cent 3,186.97 and even eked out a gain of 0.7 per cent over what was a rocky week.

Trading turnover reached 1.16 billion shares worth $1 billion with gainers beating decliners 269 to 233.

Key Asian stock markets wrapped up the last trading day of the week higher, quietly confident the United States Federal Reserve will pause the interest-rate hike next week after jobless claims in the world’s largest economy beat consensus.

The gains followed a positive outing on Wall Street overnight when the S&P 500’s ended its longest bear market since the 1940s.

The index rose 0.6 per cent to close 20 per cent from its October low. The Nasdaq climbed 1 per cent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.5 per cent.

Mr Stephen Innes, managing partner of SPI Asset Management, said the United States Federal Reserve will likely pause rate hikes at next week’s meeting.

He noted that the Fed leadership has signalled that it sees this as the prudent course because uncertainty about the lagged effects of the hikes it has already delivered and the impact of tighter bank credit increase the risk of accidentally overtightening.

Mr Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy for Asia and Oceania treasury at Mizuho Bank, pointed out that expectations for a near-term hike have merely been whittled down, not abandoned. An 80 per cent odds of a 25 basis-point rise at the Federal Reserve’s July meeting is still in place.

The top STI constituent stock on Friday was Thai Beverage, which rose 3.6 per cent to 57.5 cents, while Yangzijiang Shipbuilding was at the bottom of the performance chart after declining 2.3 per cent to $1.27. THE BUSINESS TIMES