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Singapore shares close lower after FOMC minutes raise interest rate worries

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THE minutes of the April US Federal Reserve Open Markets Committee (FOMC) meeting that were released on Wednesday suggested that a June interest rate hike is increasingly likely, thus providing traders with the opportunity to resume short selling on Thursday.

This brought the Straits Times Index (STI) 37 points or 1.3 per cent down to 2,740.11 on Thursday, a not wholly unexpected loss as observers had described Tuesday's 45-point jump as accounting for most of the short-covering.

Turnover on Thursday amounted to 1.2 billion units worth S$1.05 billion - average by recent standards. Of this, S$787.6 million or 75 per cent came from trading in the 30 STI members. Excluding warrants, there were 132 rises versus 269 falls.

Among the biggest losers and most actively traded stocks was Global Logistic Properties or GLP, which had rocketed up S$0.155 on Tuesday and Wednesday ahead of its results and possibly because of privatisation hopes.

However, on Thursday the counter slid S$0.06 to S$1.845 on volume of 53.8 million, possibly victim to "buy in anticipation, sell on news". The company reported that FY16 profit after tax and minority interests increased 47.9 per cent year-on-year to S$719.1 million primarily due to higher asset values in China, development completion gains in Japan and contributions from its US business. In response, OCBC Investment Research described these figures as being within expectations and maintained its "buy" though with its S$2.68 fair value under review.

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