Singapore shares closed 0.25 percent lower on Friday, as investors turned cautious over the heightened tension in Ukraine ahead of a weekend referendum.
Russia launched new military exercises near its border with Ukraine on Thursday, even as Washington cautioned that Moscow risked facing serious steps if annexation was the outcome of a referendum planned for Sunday in the Crimea.
In the United States, retail sales rose 0.3 percent last month, ending two straight months of declines, while separate data from the Labor Department showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped to their lowest level since late November. The solid U.S. retail sales and employment data also reinforced expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will stick to its plan of gradually withdrawing its asset-buying stimulus.
Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index fell 7.67 points to 3, 073.72 points. Trading volume was 2.02 billion shares worth 1.22 billion Singapore dollars. Decliners outnumbered advancers 251 to 183, while 514 stocks did not move.
Voyage Research said "we now set the support level for the local market at 3,050 points and resistance level at 3,120 points. "
CIMB Research said "we now expect prices to fall to retest 2, 990 points and 3,025 points next. If prices can climb back above 3, 145 points, then the outlook would turn slightly more positive for the Straits Times Index."
Olam International jumped 11.8 percent to 2.23 Singapore dollars. Singapore's state investor Temasek Holdings said its unit, Breedens Investments, offered to buy Olam shares at 2.23 Singapore dollars per share in a cash deal that values the commodity trading firm at 4.3 billion U.S. dollars.
Parkway Life REIT gained 0.9 percent to 2.33 Singapore dollars. It said that it had acquired two nursing homes and an extended- stay lodging facility for the elderly in Osaka, Japan from Miyako Enterprise for a combined 37.4 million Singapore dollars.
Among top gainers, Jardine Cycle and Carriage rose 9.2 percent to 42.69 Singapore dollars, while Jardine Strategic became one of the top losers by falling 1.4 percent to 32.75 U.S. dollars. (1 U. S. dollar equals to 1.27 Singapore dollars)