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Singapore shares add 0.3% ahead of Fed chief's testimony

THE local equities market closed higher on Wednesday as investors wait anxiously for US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell's testimony later in the day.

The Straits Times Index (STI) gained 10.96 points or 0.3 per cent to close at 3,340.42.

However, it was a mixed day across the Asia-Pacific, with markets in Australia, Hong Kong and South Korea finishing higher. Meanwhile, China, Japan and Malaysia ended lower. 

In Singapore, trading volume clocked in at 1.22 billion securities, just over the daily average in the first six months of 2019. However, total turnover came to S$973.22 million, 92 per cent of the January-to-June daily average.

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Across the market, advancers pipped decliners 193 to 188. The benchmark index had eight of the STI's 30 components trading in the red.

Thai Beverage stocks added one Singapore cent or 1.1 per cent to close at 88 cents on 24.8 million shares changing hands, the most among benchmark index components for the second successive session.

The local banks all ended higher. DBS Group Holdings gained S$0.08 or 0.3 per cent to S$25.40, OCBC Bank added S$0.08 or 0.7 per cent to S$11.48 and United Overseas Bank closed at S$26.41, up S$0.19 or 0.7 per cent.

ComfortDelGro, which garnered much attention from investors this week on hopes of public transport fare revisions, closed S$0.02 or 0.7 per cent down at S$2.82 on 10.8 million shares traded. 

Market participants took interest in the transport operator after the government revealed on Monday that it will be working to review how public transport fares are determined. Until the review is completed, a temporary grant will be provided to support rail operators. With hopes that fare revisions could be on the horizon, ComfortDelGro shares added 2.5 per cent during Tuesday's session. 

Mainboard-listed Cordlife Group was one of the most actively traded counters on the Singapore Exchange (SGX), surging 8.5 Singapore cents or 16.5 per cent to close at 60 cents on 35.2 million shares traded. The vast majority of Wednesday's trading volume was down to three married trades totalling 33.8 million shares. SGX queried the cord blood banker for "unusual price movements" in the afternoon session.