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Stocks

Surprise monetary easing fails to stir market

SINGAPORE -- Singaporean shares edged down Thursday as markets across Asia turned in a lackluster performance.

     The Monetary Authority of Singapore on Wednesday eased its monetary policy, seeking a slower pace of appreciation of the Singaporean dollar. But the market's response was muted, with the city state's Straits Times Index already hovering at a high level.

     The central bank usually re-examines its policy in April and October, so the latest move was largely unexpected. The easing would promote exports of electronics and other products to bolster the economy.

     But even after the announcement, banking giant DBS Group Holdings ended lower for a second straight day Thursday, underscoring the limited impact on shares sensitive to the economy.

     Some observers are already expecting additional monetary easing in April, hoping that the central bank will slow the pace of currency appreciation further and that authorities will allow the Singaporean dollar to fluctuate more widely.

     With consumer prices stable amid the crude oil plunge, the central bank faces little resistance to easing monetary policy. As hopes for easing steps grow in India and other parts of Asia, the bank could have another surprise up its sleeve.

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