Singapore stocks end flat amid cautious sentiment over Powell remarks

SINGAPORE shares ended Thursday (Jun 23) unchanged, after Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell signalled that while a recession is possible, a soft landing is still in the works.

The Straits Times Index (STI) closed 0.02 per cent or 0.51 point lower at 3,092.8, although most regional markets ended higher. 

Major bourses in Hong Kong, Japan, Australia and Indonesia closed between 0.1 per cent and 1.3 per cent higher. South Korea's Kospi fell 1.2 per cent, while Malaysia's Bursa closed flat.

Oanda's senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley said the markets moved the way they did as Powell's semi-annual testimony on Capitol Hill left investors "in somewhat of a no man's land".

While Powell's remarks about the possibility of a recession "should have been enough to spark a somewhat counterintuitive risk sentiment rally" since Fed hiking expectations were dialled back, the markets got a mixed response instead, he said. This was as the Fed chair also said the central bank is determined to bring down inflation and has the ability to make that happen.

Singapore Exchange's market strategist Geoff Howie, meanwhile, noted that this is the fifth time over the past 6 sessions the STI has closed in the 3,090's, with Singapore stocks booking close to S$200 million in net institutional inflows from Jun 16 to Jun 22. DBS, CapitaLand Investment, Singtel, OCBC and CapitaLand Integrated Commercial Trust led those inflows, he added.

Real estate investment trusts (Reits) and property stocks were some of the best performers among STI constituents.

Mapletree Industrial Trust was the biggest gainer, closing 2.4 per cent or S$0.06 higher at S$2.59. Trailing behind are Keppel DC Reit, which closed up 2.1 per cent or S$0.04 at S$1.98, and CapitaLand Investment, which rose 1.6 per cent or S$0.06 to end at S$3.78.

The 3 local banks all closed lower. UOB ended 0.6 per cent or S$0.17 lower at S$26.45, OCBC slipped 0.3 per cent or S$0.03 to S$11.33, while DBS closed at S$29.85, falling 0.4 per cent or S$0.11.

Across the broader market, gainers outnumbered losers 286 to 227, after 1.17 billion securities worth S$962.5 million changed hands.

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