THE US Federal Reserve lived up to expectations when it kept interest rates unchanged on Wednesday but the Bank of Japan (BOJ) didn't when it held off on expanding its monetary stimulus on Thursday, a surprise development that sent the Nikkei 225 diving 3.6 per cent.
In addition, oil plunged 2.6 per cent, while the Dow futures dropped 150 points. Faced with this triple whammy, the Straits Times Index (STI), which on Thursday first made a spirited attempt at avoiding a fifth consecutive loss when it initially rallied 26 points to an intraday high of 2,900, saw its advance abruptly halted in the late morning. It eventually ended the day a net 12.42 points weaker at 2,862.30.
Turnover was average at 1.4 billion units worth S$1.06 billion and excluding warrants there were 186 rises versus 206 falls.
There is some hope, however, that conditions may improve on Friday if funds indulge in a spot of month-ending window dressing.
Over in Japan, the BOJ's unexpected move was said to have been because the central bank wanted more time to study the impact of negative interest rates it implemented just three months ago.
Bank of Singapore's chief economist Richard Jerram in his "Caution from Fed, confusion from BoJ'' said it was never clear why the BOJ saw the need to move to negative rates in late January and, conversely, why it is unnecessary to act now.
"The BOJ appears to have miscalculated in allowing market expectations for more negative rates or ETF purchases to build, but then delivering no policy change. There is not much predictability to what they will do next," said Mr Jerram.