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Singapore shares add 0.2% on Thursday on cautious sentiment

MINUTES from July's US Federal Reserve meeting may have cast a pall on sentiment from investors expecting the US central bank to be outwardly dovish but its effect was limited on Singapore equities.

The Straits Times Index (STI) clocked in modest gains to close at 3,127.74, up 5.17 points or 0.2 per cent.

It was mixed elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific. Markets in Australia, China, Japan and Malaysia were up, while Hong Kong and South Korea finished lower. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 221.32 points or 0.8 per cent as worries remain over the territory's economy after weeks of protests.

VM Markets managing director Stephen Innes observed that the mood in Asian markets was "very capricious" with a "decidedly risk-off note".

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With that in mind, attention will now turn to Fed chair Jerome Powell's Jackson Hole speech on Friday, which will be closely scrutinised.

In Singapore, trading volume clocked in at 1.42 billion securities, 18 per cent of the daily average in the first seven months of 2019. Total turnover came to S$955.15 million, 90 per cent of the January-to-July daily average.

Across the market, advancers and decliners were even at 190 each. The blue-chip index fared better, with 11 of the 30 counters closing in the red.

Thai Beverage continued its advance, edging up 0.5 Singapore cent or 0.5 per cent to close at 93 cents after trading as high as 95.5 cents. It was the STI's most-traded counter with 49.6 million shares changing hands. Having surged 52.5 per cent in 2019, the food and beverage player is by far the STI's best performer this year. Wilmar International is a distant second, adding 22.8 per cent in 2019.

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding shares continued to see heavy activity since trading resumed last Thursday. Shares in the shipbuilder remain volatile due to ongoing investigations by Chinese authorities of an individual with close links to the firm. They closed 3.5 Singapore cents or 3.6 per cent lower at 93 cents. 

The local banks notched up slight gains. DBS Group Holdings closed up one Singapore cent at S$24.59. Meanwhile, OCBC Bank eked out a three Singapore cents or 0.3 per cent gain to S$10.69 and United Overseas Bank ended at S$24.82, up six cents or 0.2 per cent.

Among second-liner firms, Frencken Group eased three Singapore cents or 4.1 per cent to 70 cents following a downgrade by KGI Securities on the provider of equipment and integrated manufacturing solutions.