Singapore shares closed 0.37 percent lower on Tuesday, as investors waited for Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke's twice-yearly monetary policy report to the Congress on Wednesday and Thursday for more clues on the central bank's policy outlook.
U.S. retail sales increased 0.4 percent last month, half of the rise market had forecast. The weaker-than-forecast retail sales growth backed the view that the U.S. Federal Reserve will hold off reducing its bond-buying stimulus anytime soon. The slowdown also prompted economists to downgrade their second-quarter growth forecasts to 1 percent increase.
Phillip Securities Research said "we expect the Straits Times Index to consolidate at current levels, with key near term support at 3,200 points levels."
SIAS Research also said "we could see the index inching higher in the direction of the 3,270 points with support established at 3, 230 points."
Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index dropped 11.86 points to 3,224.96 points. Trading volume was 3.32 billion shares worth 1. 02 billion Singapore dollars. Advancers outnumbered decliners 217 to 204, while 530 stocks did not move.
Singapore Press Holdings fell 0.9 percent to 4.29 Singapore dollars. Its third-quarter profit was boosted by fair value gain on investment properties, but Maybank Kim Eng Research said the company's core media business could continue to be under pressure. The research house thus downgraded the stock to "hold" from "buy" and cut its target price to 4.50 Singapore dollars from 4.52 Singapore dollars.
Keppel Corporation rose 0.7 percent to 10.92 Singapore dollars. It said it won a contract to build a jack-up rig worth 206 million U.S. dollars for a Mexican drilling company Grupo.
United Overseas Bank shed 0.5 percent to 20.97 Singapore dollars. It said it had priced its proposed issue of 850 million Singapore dollars non-cumulative, non-convertible perpetual capital securities at 4.90 percent.
Among top gainers, Jardine Cycle and Carriage rose 0.6 percent to 4.55 Singapore dollars, while Jardine Strategic became one of the top losers by dropping 0.7 percent to 35.82 U.S. dollars. (1 U. S. dollar equals to 1.26 Singapore dollars)