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Singapore shares close higher; STI in the black for the year

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THE Straits Times Index on Friday moved into positive territory for 2016 when it jumped 26.63 points or 0.9 per cent to end at 2,906.8.

It was the first time the index closed in the black since it ended 2015 at 2,882.73. The push was led by the three banks and Singtel - turnover in the 30 STI stocks amounted to S$1.2 billion, about 71 per cent of the total dollar volume of S$1.7 billion that was done by the whole market. Most of the index's gain came in the final seconds of trading and was probably in anticipation of a Wall Street rally on Friday.

For the week, the STI gained 78 points or 2.8 per cent; for the year to date, it is now up 24 points or 0.8 per cent.

The main focus this week was the US Federal Reserve's Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC) meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, which although lived up to expectations by leaving interest rates unchanged, surprised markets by its dovish stance that there may be only two rate hikes this year instead of the previous plan for four.

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Bank of Singapore's chief economist, Richard Jerram, discussed this unexpected development in his March 17 Economics Research report.

"The Fed's concern over external risks is unusual, as the US is a large, relatively closed economy. Events outside the country do not typically have much impact on prospects for US growth," said Mr Jerram.

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