Singapore shares closed 0.01 percent lower on Friday, weighed by worries over the economic fallout from Italy's political stalemate and the likelihood of U.S. spending cuts.
There is wariness about the possible extent of economic damage from automatic across-the-board spending cuts in the United States. The International Monetary Fund said on Thursday it would likely cut its 2013 growth forecasts for the United States by at least 0. 5 percentage point if the cuts are fully implemented. The IMF now projects that the U.S. economy will grow 2 percent this year.
Chinese manufacturing data was the main data point on Friday, with the official purchasing managers' index coming out at 50.1, compared with 50.4 in January, below economists' expectations of a rise to 50.5. A reading above 50 indicates an expansion in manufacturing activity.
SIAS Research said, "We expect the Straits Times Index to remain muted as investors opt out of big risks." The research house pegged market support at 3,230 points and resistance at 3, 300 points.
CIMB Research said falling beneath 3,250 points would confirm the downtrend has resumed for local bourse, targeting 3,160 points and 3,237 points. Taking out 3,282 points would give the bulls a tad more momentum to push prices above 3,319 points.
Phillip Securities Research said the Straits Times Index near- term may find support at 3,250 points level, while 3,319 points will be the immediate resistance level.
Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index inched down 0.45 points to 3,269.50 points. Trading volume was 6.71 billion shares worth 1.80 billion Singapore dollars. Decliners outnumbered advancers 408 to 122, while 421 stocks did not move.
City Development Limited dropped 0.4 percent to 11.13 Singapore dollars. The property developer sold a total of 2,395 homes in 2012 valued at 2.78 billion Singapore dollars, compared to 1,818 units in 2011 valued at 1.76 billion Singapore dollars.
SembCorp Marine rose 0.2 percent to 4.50 Singapore dollars. Its subsidiary PPL Shipyard has secured a repeat order to build a second Pacific Class 400 jack-up rig worth 208 million U.S. dollars from Perisai (L) Incorporated, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Malaysian group Perisai Petroleum Teknologi.
Among top gainers, Jardine Matheson rose 3.5 percent to 65.51 U. S. dollars. Venture Corporation became one of the top losers, falling 1.9 percent to 8.38 Singapore dollars. (1 U.S. dollar equates to 1.24 Singapore dollars)