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Singapore shares close lower in low volume ahead of US FOMC meeting

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THE Straits Times Index (STI) on Wednesday drifted to a 12.02-point loss at 3,040.51 in low volume of one billion units worth S$826 million. Markets around in the region underwent similarly quiet and cautious sessions - the indices in Hong Kong and China ended weaker while the Dow futures traded marginally firmer - probably as traders waited for the outcome of Wednesday's US Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.

STI components traded 246.3 million units worth S$596.3 million, which in dollar terms was 72 per cent of the entire market. Excluding the 30 STI members, trading amounted to 754 million units worth S$230 million, for a unit average of S$0.31. Excluding warrants, the market's advance-decline score was 172-208.

All three banks ended weaker, possibly on soft earnings expectations. OCBC on Wednesday was the first bank to report its Q3 figures - a net profit of S$902 million, which was 27 per cent lower than a year ago.

However, OCBC's 2014 figures included a one-off gain of S$391 million, so taking this into account, core net earnings for the quarter ended Sept 30, 2015, actually grew 7 per cent. Net profit after tax for the first nine months was S$2.94 billion; excluding one-off gains, the group's core net profit after tax was 11 per cent higher than the first nine months of 2014. OCBC's shares ended S$0.08 weaker at S$9.20 with 6.4 million traded.