Singapore shares closed 0.5 percent higher on Friday after US jobless claims figures pointed to an improving labor market, reviving expectations of a reduction in US monetary stimulus.
US weekly initial claims for unemployment benefits dropped 5, 000 last week despite economists' expectations of a rise. Federal Reserve Board Governor Jeremy Stein, who voted for keeping stimulus in place at the meeting last week, said on Thursday he would have been comfortable with tapering at that meeting, adding the decision was, for him, a "close call".
Meanwhile, there is still lack of progress in budget and debt negotiations in Washington, which could potentially undermine investor risk appetite, and cap gains in stock market. Republican lawmakers in the US House of Representatives refused to give in to President Barack Obama's demands for straightforward bills to keep the government running beyond next Monday. The move could lead to US federal government shutdown on Oct. 1 and at the very extreme, a default in mid-October, when the Treasury will have run out of money.
OCBC Investment Research said "fears of a potential government shutdown continued to keep market players on tenterhooks, albeit global risk sentiments stabilized slightly overnight," adding that Straits Times Index is unlikely to climb above 3,220 points.
Voyager Research said "we could see the index stage a relief rally back towards the 3,200 points psychological level with support established at 3,170 points."
Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index shed 15.87 points to 3210.18 points. Trading volume was 4.38 billion shares worth 1.17 billion Singapore dollars. Advancers slightly outnumbered decliners 227 to 222, while 506 stocks did not move.
TriTech shed 4.2 percent to 68.5 Singapore cents. It is proposing a share split of every one existing share into two Shares and upon completion, up to 386.6 million new shares will be issued. Following completion of the proposed share split and the issue of the additional shares, TriTech is proposing to issue bonus warrants of up to 386.6 million non-renounceable bonus warrants on the basis of one warrant for every two shares held.
SATS rose 4.2 percent to 3.26 Singapore dollars. It is acquiring Singapore Cruise Centre for 110 million Singapore dollars to further develop its gateway services.
Among top gainers, Jardine Matheson rose 2.3 percent to 56.30 US dollars, while LionGold became one of the top losers by falling 4.9 percent to 1.565 Singapore dollars. (1 US dollar equals to 1. 26 Singapore dollars)