Singapore shares ended the week on a positive note, but investors may be looking to take their money off the table again amid signs of more geopolitical troubles ahead.
The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) closed up just 1.68 points or 0.05 per cent at 3,177.27, with a total market turnover of 1.86 billion shares worth $1.16 billion. For the week, the index rose 0.07 per cent.
The gain yesterday snapped a three-day drop, but an early-hour dip - to as low as 3,144 - was evidence of some uncertainty.
US President Donald Trump ordered a missile strike against Syrian government forces yesterday morning.
"People are concerned about Trump, especially after he dropped missiles on Syria and now no one knows how Russia (Syria's ally) will react," remisier Alvin Yong said.
This was only one of the geopolitical risks worrying the markets yesterday, which saw Mr Trump also engaged in a high-profile meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, with the North Korea situation high on the agenda.
The price of gold - so often a safe haven for investors in choppy times - shot up to the highest so far this year, at US$1,264 per ounce by last evening. Against this backdrop, share performance was mixed across the region. Hong Kong pared 0.03 per cent and Seoul shed 0.05 per cent. Tokyo added 0.36 per cent.
The local market looks to be on more tenuous ground, after rising over 10 per cent this year. Still, Mr Yong believes profit taking is not abnormal, and investors are still "cautiously optimistic".
"We are nearing the first-quarter corporate results season. The market expectations are that numbers this year will be better, and people are waiting for evidence of that," he added.
There were 17 STI component stocks that rose yesterday, among them Hongkong Land Holdings, which put on 10 US cents or 1.32 per cent to US$7.70, and Yangzijiang Shipbuilding, up 1.5 cents or 1.31 per cent to $1.16. CapitaLand climbed three cents or 0.81 per cent to $3.75, and CapitaLand Mall Trust added 1.5 cents or 0.76 per cent to $1.98. City Developments rose four cents or 0.39 per cent to $10.34.
Keppel Corp went up four cents or 0.58 per cent to $6.88, and Sembcorp Marine outside the benchmark rose two cents or 1.08 per cent to 1.875, as the crude oil benchmark Brent futures topped US$55 a barrel.
Eight STI stocks fell, with Golden Agri-Resources losing half a cent or 1.35 per cent to 36.5 cents.
Telcos were sold down, with Singtel paring three cents or 0.77 per cent to $3.88, and StarHub easing one cent or 0.35 per cent to $2.84. M1 also dropped, down one cent or 0.47 per cent to $2.10.
The telco sector is back under market spotlight, following the players' aggressive bids in the spectrum auction earlier this week, actions that some analysts said might hurt the operators financially.