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Singapore shares squeeze out 0.1% gain on Tuesday ahead of Fed rate decision

ASIAN markets were broadly higher ahead of an expected rate cut by the US Federal Reserve with above-average activity thanks to portfolio adjustments by investors ahead of the central bank's meeting on Wednesday.

Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) ended the Tuesday session at 3,350.54, up 4.15 points or 0.1 per cent.

"The STI concluded the day near neutral after inching up in the morning. There had also been a noticeable evasion to safety trend with the defensives mostly faring better than the cyclicals," IG market strategist Pan Jingyi said of the trading session here.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, markets in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea all closed higher. Among them, Australia's ASX 200 gained 9.3 points or 0.3 per cent to 6,845.10, an all-time closing high for the index. Malaysia was closed.

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In Singapore, trading volume clocked in at 1.17 billion securities, just under the daily average in the first six months of 2019. Total turnover came to S$1.1 billion, 4 per cent over the January-to-June daily average.

Across the broader market, decliners beat advancers 214 to 182. Meanwhile, the blue-chip index had 11 of its 30 components closing in the red.

With investor attention on defensives and higher yield offerings ahead of the Fed cut, Singtel was the blue-chip index's most active, ending S$0.07 or 2.1 per cent higher at S$3.37 on 47.3 million shares traded.

Other defensively positioned blue chips that saw increased activity included ComfortDelGro (up S$0.06 or 2.2 per cent to S$2.82) and ST Engineering (up S$0.02 or 0.5 per cent to S$4.32).

The local banks were mixed. DBS Group Holdings closed S$0.15 or 0.6 per cent lower at S$26.49. Meanwhile, United Overseas Bank added S$0.06 or 0.2 per cent to S$26.80 and OCBC Bank ended flat at S$11.71.

Sembcorp Marine, which posted a narrowed second-quarter net loss to S$8.5 million from S$55.6 million a year ago, saw its shares sold off by investors, closing S$0.07 or 4.9 per cent down at S$1.36. 

Delong Holdings jumped S$0.93 or 15.5 per cent to close at S$6.94 after trading in the hot-rolled steel coil manfacturer shares resumed on Tuesday following news that its chief executive has revived his S$7 per share cash offer to take the company private through his vehicle, Best Grace Holdings.

Among STI components, bourse operator Singapore Exchange (down S$0.03 or 0.4 per cent to S$7.95) and national carrier Singapore Airlines (up S$0.04 or 0.4 per cent to S$9.72) are due to report earnings for the April-June quarter on Wednesday.