Singapore shares closed 0.45 percent higher, as investors wait for a key U.S. jobs report later on Tuesday that will give clues as to whether the Federal Reserve will start withdrawing stimulus this year.
The data was originally scheduled for Oct. 4 but its release was delayed by the 16-day U.S. government shutdown. Many analysts expect the U.S. central bank to delay unwinding the 85 billion U.S. dollars-a-month program given the government shutdown and the possibility of another bitter U.S. budget fight between Democrats and Republicans early next year.
UOB Research said "even if we do get a surprisingly strong (non- farm payrolls) or a marked improvement in unemployment rate," investors see the recent U.S. political brinkmanship as potentially having "significant negative impact on U.S. growth in fourth quarter and may well see its effects linger into 2014," and hence likely delaying the Federal Reserve's tapering of quantitative easing timetable.
OCBC Investment Research also said "expect risk sentiment to take a short-term breather to digest the upcoming U.S. economic data deluge," including U.S. non-farm payrolls due later Tuesday.
Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index rose 14.45 points to 3,210.21. Trading volume was 3.09 billion shares worth 1.46 billion Singapore dollars. Advancers outnumbered decliners 273 to 173, while 508 stocks did not move.
Among top actives, Noble Group rose 2.4 percent to 1.055 Singapore dollars. Citigroup Equity Research maintained target price on Noble at 1.26 Singapore dollars, expecting an improvement in the company's long-term margins as its assets and investments start to contribute. The research house said a fire last week at Brazil's Port of Santos, the world's main source of raw sugar shipments, could benefit Noble's sugar business as Copersucar, the world's largest sugar trader, looks for alternatives from suppliers including Noble, to help meet its obligations.
Petra Foods inched up 0.3 percent to 3.51 Singapore dollars. It is in dispute with Barry Callebaut after the latter sought a discount in the final pricing for buying Petra's cocoa business. Swiss-based Barry Callebaut, the world's biggest maker of finished chocolate products for companies such as Nestle SA and Hershey, sought a reduction of 98.3 million U.S. dollars in the closing price last month, which Petra Foods considered unjustified.
Among top gainers, Jardine Matheson rose 0.6 percent to 54.30 U. S. dollars, while Jardine Cycle and Carriage became one of the top losers by dropping 1.1 percent to 36.40 Singapore dollars. (1 U.S. dollar equals 1.24 Singapore dollars)