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Singapore shares fall 0.4% on Wednesday ahead of Fed's July minutes

WEDNESDAY'S Asian session typified one lacking market catalysts as investors preferred to stay on the sidelines ahead of the release of minutes from the US Federal Reserve's July meeting and its chairman Jerome Powell's Jackson Hole speech later in the week.

The Straits Times Index gave back some of its early-week gains at the open before trading flat for the rest of the session to close at 3,122.57, down 13.38 points or 0.4 per cent.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, markets were mixed with Australia, China, Japan and Malaysia ending lower. Hong Kong and South Korea bucked the trend, posting slight gains.

"Apart from the early dip on concerns that the US president is not ready to work towards a deal with China, trading was rather directionless," one trader observed.

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In Singapore, trading volume clocked in at 1.05 billion securities, 88 per cent of the daily average in the first seven months of 2019. Total turnover came to S$1.01 billion, 95 per cent of the January-to-July daily average.

Across the market, decliners edged out advancers 190 to 182. The blue-chip index had 22 of the 30 counters closing in the red.

On 77.9 million shares traded, Thai Beverage was the blue-chip index's most active, advancing 3.5 Singapore cents or 3.9 per cent to close at 92.5 cents. 

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding continued to see sizeable activity since trading resumed last Thursday, closing 0.5 Singapore cent or 0.5 per cent lower at 96.5 cents on 49.7 million shares traded.

The local banks ended modestly lower. DBS Group Holdings eased S$0.13 or 0.5 per cent to S$24.58, OCBC Bank dipped three Singapore cents or 0.3 per cent to S$10.66 and United Overseas Bank ended at S$24.76, down S$0.23 or 0.9 per cent.

Shares in Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), which publishes The Business Times, were up four Singapore cents or 1.9 per cent to S$2.15, and units in SPH Reit gained two Singapore cents or 1.9 per cent to S$1.09. This follows the manager of SPH Reit announcing a S$1 billion multicurrency debt issuance programme, where proceeds could be used for acquisitions.

ESR Reit shares added one Singapore cent or 2 per cent at 52 cents after Citi Research initiated coverage on the Singapore-focused industrial real estate investment trust.