Singapore shares closed 1.4 percent lower on Tuesday, hit by uncertainty about when the U.S. Federal Reserve will start to reduce its stimulus.
Minutes from the U.S. central bank's last policy meeting will be released on Wednesday and could provide investors with fresh clues on when the Federal Reserve plans to taper its monthly 85 billion U.S. dollars in asset purchases, which many believe could begin next month.
A key risk in the minutes is whether the Federal Reserve has begun discussing a possible change in its threshold rate for unemployment from the current 6.5 percent level as a means of providing additional accommodation. On Monday, the U.S. stocks began the week with losses, ending lower for the fourth straight session amid the continuing uncertainty about the U.S. economic policy outlook.
Phillip Securities Research said the Straits Times Index may face continued pressure on the back of continued concerns over potential tapering of quantitative easing. The research house pegged near-term support at 3,100 points, expecting downward pressure to continue from current levels.
OCBC Investment Research said "concerns over the Federal Reserve's plans for tapering quantitative easing remains on top of investors' minds."
DBS Group Research also said the index's decline tested the near-term support at 3,170 points with immediate resistance is at 3,210 points. If the index falls below 3,170 points, the next two immediate support levels are around 3,130 points and 3,100 points.
Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index dropped 44.58 points to 3,128.75 points. Trading volume was 3.08 billion shares worth 1. 65 billion Singapore dollars. Decliners heavily outnumbered advancers 397 to 88, while 468 stocks did not move.
Krisenergy Limited inched up 0.8 percent to 1.30 Singapore dollars. The upstream oil and gas company said that it and business partner Mubadala Petroleum have agreed on the final investment decision for the Nong Yao oil development in a contract area in the Gulf of Thailand. First oil is anticipated in the first half of 2015.
Singapore Exchange dropped 1.2 percent to 7.42 Singapore dollars. The bourse operator is proposing to reduce the standard size of securities listed on the exchange from 1,000 to 100 units, with a view to reducing it further to 1 unit in the longer term. It said the reduction of the board lot size to 100 units as a first step will allow the exchange to assess the market impact.
Among top gainers, Venture Corporation rose 1 percent to 7.43 Singapore dollars, while Jardine Cycle and Carriage became one of the top losers by dropping 4.3 percent to 36.74 Singapore dollars. (1 U.S. dollar equals to 1.27 Singapore dollars)