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Singapore shares finish higher; STI up 1.1% for week thanks to FOMC, telco play

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THE March 14-15 Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting was arguably the main feature of the past week, one whose outcome was just what the market wanted - an interest-rate hike followed by guidance that there will probably be only two more for the rest of 2017.

This much was well-publicised in the aftermath of the market's "relief rally", described as such because there had been worry before the meeting that the FOMC might signal three more hikes instead of two.

Less publicised however but certainly just as relevant was that the Atlanta Federal Reserve's most current forecast of US first-quarter GDP (gross domestic product) growth was downgraded from 1.2 per cent to 0.9 per cent. In early February, the forecast was 3.2 per cent, so despite all the hoopla about a robust US economy, the reality is much more sobering.

In contrast, the numbers for the local economy do actually show an upturn, which is perhaps why the Straits Times Index (STI) managed two consecutive 19-month highs on Thursday and Friday, gaining 36 points or 1.1 per cent over the course of the week at 3,169.38.

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Friday's 5.86 points came with 2.2 billion units worth S$1.9 billion, the highest for the week thanks to a large push on telcos after M1 suspended trading and a news report circulated that the telco is conducting a strategic review of its operations.

Gainers outnumbered losers 258 ro 203.