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Singapore stocks close mixed in lowest daily volume for the year

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ACTIVITY in the local stock market - which had shown signs of slowing over the past week - ground to a virtual standstill on Wednesday ahead of the US Federal Reserve's Open Markets Committee meeting.

However, with the Dow futures rising about 20 points in the late afternoon and with Europe opening higher, the Straits Times Index (STI), which had languished in the red for almost the whole day, managed a 4.77 points rise to 2,844.21.

Turnover amounted to a weak 1.3 billion units worth S$741 million, a far cry from the S$1.75 billion done a little over a week ago. It was the lowest single-day haul this year. Excluding warrants, there were 201 rises against 196 falls.

In the commodities sector, Wilmar International's shares added S$0.01 at S$3.23 on volume of 6.7 million. Macquarie Warrants (MW) in its daily newsletter said that Macquarie Equities Research likes the plantation sector for 2016 as it has a fundamental tailwind in the form of rising crude palm oil prices.

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"On Tuesday, palm oil futures for May delivery closed at RM2,611/mt in Kuala Lumpur, the highest close for an actively traded futures month," noted MW. "Likewise, the world's largest palm oil producer Wilmar this week closed at its highest since October 2015."

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