In line with market’s expectation, Federal Reserve’s (Fed) latest meeting on 25 – 26 July ended with interest rates being left unchanged. Coupled with strong corporate earnings, in particular from iphone maker Apple which reported a robust quarterly result beating analysts’ estimates, Dow Jones Industrial Average broke 22,000 for the first time on 2 August closing at 22,016.24. For the fortnight, the US bellwether advanced 1.9 percent to end at 22,026.10. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.1 percent and 0.8 percent respectively to finish at 2,472.16 and 6,340.34.
In Asia, China manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) came in at 51.4 for July 2017, slightly below economists’ consensus of 51.6. Nevertheless, this has not dampened investors’ sentiments as Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.7 percent to close at 3,262.08. Likewise, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) staged an extended rally on high turnover which saw the benchmark breaking past the 27,000- point mark, towards its 2015-high of 28,133. On the other hand, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index appeared rather muted and traded in a sideway manner. Over the last two weeks, HSI jumped 3.2 percent to close at 27,562.68 while Nikkei dipped 0.7 percent to end at 19,952.33.
On the local front, headline inflation for Singapore households edged up 0.7 percent in 1H17, reversing from the 0.2 percent decline in 2H16 based on data released by the Department of Statistics on 24 July. On 27 July, upbeat earnings news from local bank Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation propelled the Straits Times Index (STI) upward by 0.5 percent, but the local equities barometer quickly retraced its gains upon United Overseas Bank’s less-than-impressive results the following day. Nonetheless, the STI clocked a modest 0.4 percent advancement to end the fortnight at 3,326.52.
US’s non-farm payroll and unemployment data on 4 August could well be the next catalyst to drive the markets further. Market participants are looking for confirmations on the strength of the world’s largest economy as well as clues on the Fed’s next policy move.