The Singapore stock market has alternated between positive and negative finishes through the last six trading days since the end of the two-day losing streak in which it had given away almost 50 points or 1.67 percent. The Straits Times Index finished just above the 3,035-point plateau, although now analysts are forecasting renewed selling pressure at the opening of trade on Wednesday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is negative, with investors likely to lock in gains after many of the regional bourses rallied sharply earlier in the week. In addition, traders are likely to move to the sidelines amid expectations that the ECB will unveil new measures this week to drive down the cost of financing. Investors are also awaiting an announcement by the U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday and the U.S. jobs report on Friday. The European and U.S. markets were down, and the Asian markets are expected to follow that lead.
The STI finished slightly higher on Tuesday, bumped higher by support from the plantation stocks and telecoms.
For the day, the index added 3.60 points or 0.12 percent to finish at 3,036.40 after trading between 2,985.43 and 3,040.11 on volume of 1.54 billion shares. There were 182 gainers and 177 decliners.
Among the gainers, Noble Group jumped 0.9 percent, while Golden Agri-Resources climbed 0.7 percent, Olam International soared 0.5 percent, StarHub jumped 1.9 percent, SingTel collected 0.8 percent and M1 gathered 0.8 percent.
The lead from Wall Street suggests mild consolidation as stocks moved modestly lower on Tuesday amid subdued selling pressure. Uncertainty ahead of monetary policy decisions from both sides of the Atlantic contributed to the weakness.
Stocks turned in a lackluster performance for most of the day, as traders seemed reluctant to make any significant moves ahead of the announcements. However, modest selling pressure emerged going into the close of trading.
Traders shrugged off a batch of largely upbeat economic data as Standard & Poor's reported a bigger than expected increase in home prices, while a report from the Institute for Supply Management - Chicago showed that Chicago-area business activity unexpectedly expanded at a faster rate in July.
The Conference Board also reported an unexpected improvement in consumer confidence in July, with consumers becoming more optimistic about the short-term outlook. And a separate report from the Commerce Department showed that consumer spending unexpectedly come in roughly flat in June despite a bigger than expected increase in personal income.
On the earnings front, drug giant Pfizer reported Q2 earnings that rose year-over-year and beat estimates, while revenues also exceeded expectations. Aetna also reported better than expected second quarter earnings and raised its full-year guidance. Humana reported second quarter earnings that fell by more than expected and lowered its full-year guidance.
After showing a lack of direction for much of the session, the major averages all ended the day in the red. The Dow fell 64.33 points or 0.5 percent to finish at 13,008.68, while the NASDAQ slipped 6.32 points or 0.2 percent to end at 2,939.52 and the S&P 500 dropped 5.98 points or 0.4 percent to 1,379.32.
In economic news, Singapore's jobless rate declined unexpectedly in the second quarter of 2012, the Ministry of Manpower said on Tuesday. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 2 percent in the second quarter from 2.1 percent in the first quarter. Economists' expected the rate to increase to 2.2 percent. Total employment is estimated to have grown by 29,200 in the second quarter. Employment recorded an increase of 27,200 in the first quarter.
by RTT Staff Writer
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