Singapore shares closed 0.24 percent lower on Monday, weighed down by a moderation of China's services Purchasing Managers Index (PMI).
A reading of 50.2 in the HSBC China December Services PMI compared with 52.5 in November showed the country's growth momentum continues to slow. Investors were also concerned over the performance of Shanghai bourse following the restart of China's initial public offering market in January
Last Friday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the U.S. central bank is committed to an accommodative policy. Bernanke, who will step down as head of the world's most powerful central bank at month's end, gave an upbeat assessment of the U.S. economy in coming quarters, but he maintained that the overall recovery " clearly remains incomplete". As a result, U.S. stocks ended last week slightly weaker.
The benchmark Straits Times Index dropped 7.65 points to close at 3,123.82 points. Trading volume was 3.51 billion shares worth only 798.3 million Singapore dollars. Decliners outnumbered advancers 235 to 183, while 528 stocks closed unchanged.
DBS Group Research said the near-term support for the Straits Times Index is at 3,130 points, but firmer one will be at 3,080 points.
Phillip Securities Research said the immediate supports for local bourse will be at 3,075 points, 3,050 points and 3,000 points respectively.
CIMB Research also said the sharp fall on Friday could potentially signal that the next downtrend to below 3,025 points is now underway.
Among top actives, Otto Marine fell 1 percent to 9.5 Singapore cents. It has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement to sell seven vessels for an aggregate consideration of 10 million U.S. dollars.
Ezion Holdings closed flat at 2.28 Singapore dollars. It has proposed to acquire a liftboat which was divested as part of the sale and leaseback exercise in February 2012. The buyback is part of Ezion's effort to raise charter rates in its upcoming renewal in second quarter by re-flagging the vessel to domestic flag. Separately, It is also acquiring the remaining 50 percent stake in the Alaskan jack-up rig from partner looking to exit.
OCBC lost 1.5 percent to 9.87 Singapore dollars before trade halted in the morning. OCBC is reported to have made a binding bid for Hong Kong's family-run Wing Hang Bank. It offered the price less than the two times book value Wing Hang was seeking.
Among the top gainers, Jardine Cycle and Carriage rose 0.3 percent to 35.78 Singapore dollars, while Jardine Matheson became one of the top losers by falling 1.5 percent to 52.34 U.S. dollars. (1 U.S. dollar equals to 1.27 Singapore dollars)