Minutes of the Federal Reserve’s November meeting indicated that a rate hike next month remains likely, although it also highlighted worries about the persistently suppressed inflation. Meanwhile, Durable goods orders fell 1.2 percent in October, well below market’s expectation of a 0.3 percent increase. Amid the dovish Fed meeting minutes and soft data, Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the pre-Thanksgiving shortened fortnight 0.3 percent higher at 23,526.18.
Over in Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) broke above 30,000 for the first time in 10 years closing at 30,003.49 on 22 November. Driven by the strength of financial stocks, HSI advanced 2.6 percent over the last two weeks to close at 29,866.32. However, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index encountered a mild pull-back losing 0.6 percent to finish at 22,550.85. In the meantime, China’s latest batch of data in October including growth in industrial output, retail sales and fixed asset investment all fell short of forecasts and estimates. Shanghai Composite Index slid 2.3 percent ending at 3,353.82.
Singapore’s non-oil domestic exports (NODX) staged a strong upturn surging 20.9 percent in October driven by both electronic and non-electronic exports, and breezed through economist estimates of a 10 percent expansion. Trade agency International Enterprise Singapore now raised its full-year forecast for NODX expecting it to grow by 6.5 to 7 percent in 2017 from a forecast of 5 to 6 percent provided earlier in August. If the forecast materializes, this will be the fastest growth in NODX in at least the last seven years.
On the other hand, Ministry of Trade and Industry has also upgraded 2017 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) forecast to 3 – 3.5 percent on 23 November. This coincided with Prime Minister Lee’s remarks early this week that Singapore’s economy could expand by more than 3 percent in 2017. In the latest data released, 3Q17 GDP grew by 5.2 percent year-on-year, the highest figure since a 5.4 percent expansion in 4Q13.
The local bourse welcomed a couple of new listings this week, including Japanese restaurant group RE&S Holdings and pre-school educator MindChamps, as well as an upcoming initial public offering of No Signboard seafood restaurant chain next week. Meanwhile, RHT Health Trust soared 9.9 percent on 15 November following an announcement that controlling shareholder Fortis Healthcare proposed to acquire its entire asset portfolio for 46.5 billion Indian rupees. Benchmark Straits Times Index added 0.6 percent to end at 3,442.15.