Singapore shares closed 0.42 percent lower on Wednesday, as investors turned cautious following mixed signals from U.S. Federal Reserve officials about when the U.S. central bank would start to pare its asset-buying stimulus.
Investors will also be paying close attention to any comments that Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Janet Yellen makes at Thursday' s Senate confirmation hearing on her nomination to become the first woman to head the world's most powerful central bank.
Atlanta Federal Reserve President Dennis Lockhart said on Tuesday that a reduction of the quantitative easing program remains a possibility at the Federal Open Market Committee's next policy meeting on Dec. 17 and 18, although he did say policy should remain very easy.
CIMB Research said "we expect prices to break lower in the days ahead," adding that below 3,173 points would put the index on course to test the gap between 3,120 points and 3,154 points.
Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index fell 13.51 points to 3,166.04 points. Trading volume was 1.8 billion shares worth 963 million Singapore dollars. Decliners outnumbered advancers 300 to 124, while 529 stocks did not move.
Among top actives, Noble Group dropped 2.8 percent to 1.05 Singapore dollars. The Hong Kong-based commodities trader reported a 70 percent drop in third-quarter net profit, largely due to losses in its associate Yancoal Australia.
Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Holdings shed 2.9 percent to 1.16 Singapore dollars. The China's third-largest listed shipbuilder said its net profit for the third quarter was 820.7 million Chinese yuan, down 6 percent to from 877.2 million Chinese yuan a year earlier.
First Resources fell 3.7 percent to 2.06 Singapore dollars. It reported third quarter net profit of 51.4 million U.S. dollars, mainly due to jump in plantations revenue as well as rise in refining and processing revenues. This brought first nine-month net profit to 152.7 million U.S. dollars.
Among top gainers, UOB rose 0.2 percent to 20.85 Singapore dollars, while Jardine Cycle and Carriage became one of the top losers by falling 2.7 percent to 34.06 Singapore dollars. (1 U.S. dollar equals to 6.097 Chinese yuan and 1.25 Singapore dollars)