The FOMC Meeting last week concluded with the Federal Reserve (Fed) holding rates unchanged at between 1 percent and 1.25 percent, although the door is still left open for a December hike. Centrist Jerome Powell, who was seen as more accommodative to Trump’s policies, was nominated as the Fed’s next chairman following Yellen’s term expiry in February. Meanwhile, non-farm payroll report appeared a little mixed with the US economy adding 261,000 jobs in October falling short of Wall Street’s expectation of 310,000. Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.3 percent to close at 23,461.94 as investors await progress of the tax reform while Trump toured Asia on his first-year anniversary of election victory.
Saudi Arabia got mired in an episode of power struggle as crown prince Mohammed bin Salman sought to secure his dominance pursuant to the arrest of dozens other princes and high-ranking officials amidst a corruption crackdown. The political turmoil in the Middle East lifted brent crude oil price to stand firm above US$60 per barrel at US$63.78 as at 9 November.
Asian markets were spilling with optimism as benchmark indices continued to chart new highs. Closing at 22,681.42, Japan Nikkei 225 Index has not only risen 25 percent from its 2007 peak, but it has also surged to a level last seen more than a quarter century ago in 1991. Likewise, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index has also surpassed its 2015 high, standing at 29,120.92 driven by robust performances of tech giant Tencent whose spin-offs attracted overwhelming responses.
The local bourse released reports after reports of strong earnings. Following OCBC’s 12 percent earnings growth, UOB also announced an 11.6 percent increase in net profit. Sentiments were lifted by multiple increases of net profit from large corporates across all sectors, including Venture Corp’s more than doubling of its 3Q profit; SIA’s profit almost tripled in Q2; and Singtel’s Q2 profit nearly tripled underpinned by divestment gains from NetLink Trust.
Straits Times Index broke 3,400 inching towards 2015 high of 3,525.18. Over the fortnight, the local benchmark gained 1 percent ending at 3,420.10.