Singapore stocks rose at the opening bell on Wall Street's rebound but gave back most of the gains as cautious investors trimmed positions ahead of a US Federal Reserve decision on interest rates.
The Straits Times Index ended little changed, closing at 2,546.18, up just 0.02 per cent or 0.57 point.
"Local stocks got sold down as investors closed positions or took profit ahead of the (Fed) outcome. Who would dare to keep their positions open ahead of that?" remisier Alvin Yong said.
Investors are watching if the brutal start to the new year and worries over China's slowing economy may push the Fed off its proposed course of gradual interest rate hikes.
The US central bank is widely expected to leave rates unchanged later at the end of its two-day meeting yesterday and acknowledge financial market turmoil is threatening its upbeat view of the US economy.
Weakness in Chinese equities also weighed on sentiment at home amid fears of accelerating capital outflows from China as its economy slows and the risk of further yuan depreciation grows. Shanghai fell 0.52 per cent and Shenzhen dipped 0.83 per cent.
China posted its slowest economic growth in 25 years last year, and the economic data so far this year is far from uplifting. The latest data, out yesterday, showed profits at Chinese industrial firms fell 4.7 per cent last month from a year earlier, the seventh straight month of declines.
On the local bourse, laggards included the three bank stocks and Global Logistic Properties (GLP), which fell 2.9 per cent or five cents to $1.65, on 28.1 million shares traded. The logistics provider has sunk to a new 52-week low on fears that a manufacturing slowdown in China could dampen demand for warehousing and logistics.
GLP last month completed its acquisition of a 15.5 per cent stake in China's largest state-owned warehouse logistics provider for 2 billion yuan (S$434 million) .
Meanwhile, DBS Group Holdings dipped 0.7 per cent or 10 cents to $13.66, OCBC fell 0.9 per cent or seven cents to $7.62, while United Overseas Bank lost 0.2 per cent or three cents to $17.44.
Noble Group was the most actively traded stock. It closed unchanged at 27.5 cents, with 37.8 million shares traded. It is holding a special general meeting today to seek shareholders' nod for its sale of its agricultural unit Noble Agri.
Singtel also was among the most actively traded, rising 0.9 per cent or three cents to $3.43 with 25.8 million shares traded. Golden Agri-Resources jumped 3 per cent or one cent to 34 cents, with 23.5 million shares traded. Ezra Holdings put on 1.9 per cent or 0.1 cent to 5.5 cents.
Terratech Group surged 35.6 per cent or 1.6 cents to 6.1 cents, with 22.5 million shares traded. Corporate governance concerns continue to weigh on SingPost, which fell 4.5 per cent or 6.5 cents to $1.39, with 12.9 million shares traded.