The rally witnessed by markets in Asia started to dissipate yesterday but the Singapore market closed higher despite a lack of catalysts. The Straits Times Index (STI) gained 4.94 points or 0.15 per cent to close at 3,316.21.
Elsewhere in Asia, markets in Japan, South Korea, China and Malaysia closed moderately higher. The Australian and Hong Kong markets, however, closed lower.
On the mixed showing, IG market strategist Pan Jingyi said the markets have "exhausted the leads from the first half of the week as investors look to new leads in the US-China trade talks before Friday's US non-farm payrolls data release".
Trading in Singapore chalked up 1.38 billion securities, in line with the daily average of this year's first two months. Total turnover reached $1.35 billion, 32 per cent more than the January-to-February daily average. Advancers outnumbered decliners 197 to 172.
Ten of the STI's 30 constituents ended the day in the red. Genting Singapore was the most traded stock, with 239.3 million shares changing hands. Its shares slumped 10 cents or 9.3 per cent to close at 97 cents.
The casino operator faced a heavy sell-off following news that a 50 per cent increase in casino entry levies for Singaporeans and permanent residents kicked in yesterday and higher casino tax rates will take effect from March 2022.
The capital expenditure required for the $4.5 billion reinvestment plan for Resorts World Sentosa was also likely to have weighed on the minds of investors.
On yesterday's sell-off, a trader said: "There is sentiment among investors to sell off to a support of around 98 cents to $1 before analysing the detailed impact of the levies, tax tiering and investment required for the integrated resorts."
Genting Singapore also saw the most value of trade done, with $236.25 million traded or 17.5 per cent of the bourse's value of securities for the day.
Financials fared well, giving a lift to the benchmark index.
Among non-STI counters, pennies saw heavy movements.
Synagie Corp surged 40 per cent in the early session but closed two cents or 31.8 per cent higher at 8.3 cents.
When queried by the Singapore Exchange (SGX), Synagie said it was in compliance with listing rules. After the market closed, it said it has expanded to Vietnam.
E-commerce firm Y Ventures saw heavy trading too. It closed at 8.9 cents, up 2.6 cents or 41.3 per cent. SGX queried it too.
The remisier said that "having made on the rally in large cap counters, traders may have shifted their attention to small caps".