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STI climbs modest 0.1% as regional markets flounder in sea of red

SINGAPORE – Local shares shrugged off the widespread losses in key regional markets to record a surprising if modest rise on Thursday.

Any gains are welcome in these volatile times, so the 0.1 per cent, or 3.71 point, advance of the Straits Times Index to 3,226.59 was something to cheer.

Trade levels were muted, with losers outnumbering gainers 277 to 265 after one billion shares worth $754.3 million were traded.

Conglomerate Jardine Matheson was among the top gainers of the day, closing up 0.4 per cent to US$47.92.

iFast and EnGro Corp saw heavy buying, with iFast inching up 2.5 per cent to $5.82, and EnGro surging 21.8 per cent to 95 cents.

DBS Bank emerged as the most active counter by value, rising 0.03 per cent to $33.41. OCBC Bank ended up 0.2 per cent higher at $12.60, and UOB remained unchanged at $28.60.

Elsewhere, regional bourses finished the day in a sea of red. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index led Thursday’s declines after it fell 1.3 per cent, while Shanghai’s Composite slipped 1.1 per cent. Key gauges in South Korea, Australia and Japan closed marginally lower.

This came after Wall Street falls overnight as stronger-than-expected US service sector data fuelled concerns that still-sticky inflation would mean interest rates staying higher for longer.

The non-manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index in the US rose to 54.5 in August, the highest reading since February and up from 52.7 in July. A reading above 50 indicates growth in the service industry, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the economy.

Mr Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management, said this could prompt “a more cautious and even hawkish recalibration of real interest rates”. “The markets are adopting a more cautious stance as the data suggests that the US economy is performing strongly, which is always a potential signal for the Federal Reserve to prolong its cycle of interest rate hikes,” he said.THE BUSINESS TIMES

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