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STI up 0.23% as markets await FOMC meeting

THE Straits Times Index (STI) ended Wednesday at 2,800.57 points, registering a small gain of 0.23 per cent.

Its performance was in line with its regional peers' range-bound trading ahead of the Federal Reserve meeting on Wednesday.

Stephen Innes, Axicorp's chief global market strategist, said: "While uncertainty ahead of this week's FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meeting is likely to keep bullish ambitions at bay at the moment, it does not feel like investors need much of an excuse to sit on their hands."

Japan's Nikkei 225 was up 0.15 per cent to 23,124.95 points. South Korean shares rose for the ninth straight session with Kospi being 0.31 per cent higher to 2,195.69, its highest close since Feb 19.  Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index edged up 0.1 per cent to 6,148.4 at the close of trade, its highest since March 6. The FTSE Bursa Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Composite Index edged up 0.01 per cent to 1,575.27.

However, Hong Kong stocks ended marginally lower, snapping a seven-day winning streak, with the Hang Seng Index having inched down 0.03 per cent to 25,049.73. Over in the mainland, Shanghai Composite Index dipped 0.42 per cent to 2,943.75.

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In Singapore, the best STI performer was United Overseas Bank (UOB), which added 44 Singapore cents to S$23.10. The lender's price has been trending upwards since early this month, and Citi recently upgraded the counter to a "buy" - along with the other two local banks - with a target price of S$25.

Jardine C&C, which went ex-dividend on Monday, sat at the bottom of the table of the STI's worst performers for the second day in a row. The counter was down 1.4 per cent to S$22.54.

Sembcorp Marine was among the most heavily traded stocks by volume on Wednesday, after topping the table a day ago. The counter had 42 million shares traded, and ended one Singapore cent down at S$0.61.

Advancers outnumbered decliners 268 to 196 for the day, with 1.63 billion shares worth S$1.54 billion traded.

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