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Singapore shares close higher ahead of key Fed meeting

THE Straits Times Index (STI) rose 27.07 points to 2,895.81 on Thursday as traders continued to buy in anticipation of a "relief rally" if the US Federal Reserve keeps interest rates unchanged at its Thursday Federal Open Market Committee meeting.

Turnover was in line with recent soft-to-mediocre averages at one billion units worth S$1.2 billion and, excluding warrants, there were 221 rises versus 161 falls.

Overall, trading lived up to prior expectations - cautious and narrowly focused as players waited to see whether the Fed would raise rates or postpone the decision until December or even later.

Among the STI gainers was Singtel, with a S$0.03 rise to S$3.72 on a volume of 22.2 million. Nomura in a Thursday report reaffirmed its "buy" on the stock, pointing out that although for the year to date Singtel has fallen only 5 per cent versus the index's 15 per cent, from its peak, the telco is down 17 per cent versus the STI's 18 per cent and that short selling of Singtel has picked up in recent weeks.

Nomura said Singtel's core trends are resilient and even improving in almost all of its markets with underlying growth of 3-11 per cent, and although foreign exchange will be drag, free cash flow is better hedged and stable. Its target price is S$4.30.