SE Asia Stocks: Singapore down; markets cautious ahead of Fed meet

By: | Published: March 9, 2017 12:15 PM

Singapore stocks dropped nearly 1 percent on Thursday led by financial stocks while other markets in the region were tepid with investors cautious ahead of the US Federal Reserve meeting next week.

The Singapore index fell as much as 0.84 percent during the day with DBS Group, the city-state’s largest bank by market capitalisation, posting its worst percentage drop in over three weeks. (Reuters)

Singapore stocks dropped nearly 1 percent on Thursday led by financial stocks while other markets in the region were tepid with investors cautious ahead of the US Federal Reserve meeting next week. The Singapore index fell as much as 0.84 percent during the day with DBS Group, the city-state’s largest bank by market capitalisation, posting its worst percentage drop in over three weeks.

Trading volumes were low, as investors remained wary of a possible rate hike at the upcoming Fed meeting. “The ADP (employment) numbers from U.S. yesterday were very strong,” said Liu Jinshu, director of research at NRA Securities. “There are fears that not only will the Fed hike interest rates in March, but they may even hike the trajectory of rates.” U.S. private sector job growth recorded its biggest increase in more than a year in February amid a surge in construction and factory hiring.

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“Basically, people are concerned that the Fed may be more hawkish than previously expected,” added Jinshu. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.87 percent as at 0517 GMT. The Thailand index fell nearly half a percent, with energy stocks losing ground. Oil and gas supplier PTT PCL fell as much as 1.5 percent, while refiner Thai Oil PCL shed as much as 1.3 percent.

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The Philippine index rose marginally. Industrials were the biggest gainers, with SM Investments Corp rising as much as 1.22 percent while telecommunications provider PLDT Inc hit a near 2-month high. Indonesia was flat, with the index of the 45 most liquid stocks reflecting the subdued sentiment in the market.

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