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Singapore shares add 0.7% on Thursday

MARKET participants like certainty - and with the US Federal Reserve's move to lower interest rates for third time this year, expectations were met. But markets were also reminded of slowing global growth as China's official manufacturing and non-manufacturing sector readings showed continued weakness.

That said, Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) seemed to shrug off those concerns. Opening 0.3 per cent higher, the STI built on the week's positives, adding to those early gains, to close the month out at 3,229.88, an advance of 21.96 points or 0.7 per cent. The benchmark index gained 3.5 per cent in October.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, market performance was mixed. Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea posted gains. On the other hand, Australia, which was weighed down by financials, and China, where sentiment was particularly hit by continued weak factory data, were lower.  

Given that global markets had already priced in the US Federal Reserve's October rate cut prior to its announcement, the effect of the cut on markets was little. The focus seemed to be on Fed chair Jerome Powell's speech after, in which he signalled that the US central bank would put a pause to its cuts for the rest of the year.

US-China trade tensions, which have been the key driver of market sentiment this year, continue to thaw.

AxiTrader Asia-Pacific market strategist Stephen Innes said: "The mood music is improving by the day as it's becoming more and more apparent that both the US and China are singing from the same song sheet - suggesting the door is open to moving into phase two of the long and winding trade deal road."

In Singapore, trading volume stood at 1.33 billion securities, 11 per cent more than the daily average in the first nine months of 2019. Total turnover clocked in at S$1.49 billion, 39 per cent over the January-to-September daily average.

Across the market, advancers trumped decliners 241 to 179. Six of the blue-chip index's 30 counters ended in the red.

On 38.1 million shares changing hands, Golden Agri-Resources was the STI's most active counter on Thursday. The agribusiness player fell 0.5 Singapore cent or 2.4 per cent to end at 20.5 Singapore cents.

Among blue-chip index counters, Singtel, which added four Singapore cents or 1.2 per cent up to close at S$3.30, saw heavier than usual activity with 31.8 million shares traded. On Thursday, Singapore-focused tokenisation startup Sygnum, which is backed by the telco, obtained a capital markets services licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Sygnum will focus mainly on digital asset investment strategies for accredited and institutional investors.

The local banks all ended higher. DBS Group Holdings closed up S$0.31 or 1.2 per cent higher at S$26, OCBC Bank added six Singapore cents or 0.6 per cent to S$10.96 while United Overseas Bank, which will release third-quarter earnings on Friday, closed at S$26.83, gaining S$0.23 or 0.9 per cent.

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