Singapore stocks subdued as Fed signals December rate hike

Singapore stocks closed little changed on Thursday, tracking weakness in other Asian equities but losses were capped as lenders advanced.

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Singapore stocks closed little changed on Thursday, tracking weakness in other Asian equities on concerns over Federal Reserve rate hike but losses were capped as lenders advanced.

MSCI's broadest dollar-denominated index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.4 percent, shrugging off slight gains on Wall Street.

As widely expected, the Fed said it would begin in October to trim its massive holding of U.S. Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities acquired in the years after the 2008 financial crisis.

The Fed signalled it still expects one more interest rate hike by the end of the year, despite a recent bout of low inflation, but ratcheted down its long-term interest rate forecasts, Reuters reported.

The Straits Times Index fell 0.13 percent or 4 points to 3,213. It ended 0.24 percent lower on Thursday, taking the year-to-date performance to about 12 percent.

Among the laggards, Jardine Matheson Holdings and Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust fell 2.6 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.

Shares in taxi operator ComfortDelGro fell about 1 percent, its fourth straight decline after its unit SBS Transit lost the tender to operate the Thomson-East Coast line to competitor SMRT.

Shares in Raffles Education Corp, an operator of colleges and universities, slumped 9 percent. The company's said its chairman had been approached by various parties regarding his shareholding but no agreement has been reached.

CapitaLand Commercial Trust said it would buy Asia Square Tower 2 in Singapore's Marina Bay from BlackRock for about S$2.1 billion. Shares were suspended from trading.

Among the lenders, United Overseas Bank and DBS Group Holdings gained 1 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Great Eastern Holdings gained 0.3 percent after saying "it is assessing possible options" in reponse to media reports suggesting that the life insurance company is mulling to divest its stake in Malaysia operations.

About 1.8 billion shares worth S$1.1 billion changed hands, with gainers outnumbering losers 215 to 211.