Singapore shares closed 0.4 percent lower on Monday, as the upcoming U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting continued to weigh on investors' sentiment.
The Federal Reserve meets on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss tapering its 85 billion U.S. dollars in monthly bond buying and opinion is divided on whether it will move this week or wait for January or March.
The case for a December taper is that the U.S. labor market looks stronger and fiscal risks have diminished with the budget deal. Against this, inflation remains very low and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke may prefer to see more evidence that recent employment and spending gains can be sustained.
Meanwhile, HSBC's preliminary December manufacturing data for China fell to 50.5 in December, compared with a final reading of 50.8 in November. A reading above the 50 mark indicates an expansion in factory activity.
The benchmark Straits Times Index fell 12.25 points to close at 3,053.77 points. Trading volume was 1.82 billion shares worth 725. 3 million Singapore dollars. Decliners outnumbered advancers 248 to 161, while 542 stocks closed unchanged.
DBS Group Research said "market sentiment continued to be weak, weighed down by concerns over tapering of third quantitative easing," adding that "the technical support for the Straits Times Index is at 3,015 points and 3,040 points."
CIMB Research said "a minor bounce may occur here but we do not expect it to be strong."
Among top actives, Albedo rose 9.6 percent to 5.7 Singapore cents. Albedo has agreed to buy an additional six parcels of land from a company majority owned by Malaysian tycoon Danny Tan in a move that will increase the size of the reverse takeover deal by more than twofold from 774 million Singapore dollars to 1.86 billion Singapore dollars.
Fraser and Neave gained 0.4 percent to 5.70 Singapore dollars. Thai tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi has trimmed his stake in Fraser and Neave through TCC Assets, to raise the conglomerate's public float to meet listing requirements. TCC Assets sold a 2.1 percent stake in Fraser and Neave, or 30.9 million shares, for 173 million Singapore dollars at 5.596 Singapore dollars per share.
Centurion Corporation closed flat at 5.3 Singapore cents. Centurion has acquired a 7,220 square meters plot of land in Jakarta, Indonesia for 0.8 million Singapore dollars, for the development of worker accommodation. This will be Centurion's maiden worker accommodation investment in Indonesia.
Among the top gainers, Venture Corporation rose 2 percent to 7. 75 Singapore dollars, while Jardine Matheson became one of the top losers by falling 0.6 percent to 51.10 U.S. dollars. (1 U.S. dollar equals to 1.26 Singapore dollars)