Some key financials and industrial counters headed north yesterday and helped the Straits Times Index (STI) rise for the fifth straight trading day.
Singapore proved a bright spot compared with other South-east Asian markets. Indexes in the Philippines and Malaysia fell. China stocks also dipped after the United States levelled tariffs on US$200 billion (S$273 billion) more of Chinese goods.
Tokyo was an exception, with the benchmark Nikkei shrugging off the ills of the trade war to end on an eight-month high due in part to a weaker yen. Japan is due to hold trade talks with the US this week.
Meanwhile, a potential rate hike by the US Federal Reserve tomorrow is being seen as "a major risk event" for financial markets, said Mr Jameel Ahmad, global head of currency strategy and market research at FXTM.
"Although the likelihood of (the US Federal Reserve) raising interest rates is already 'priced in' to investor expectations, any indications provided by Fed chair Jerome Powell on the possible ambitions heading into next year hold the possibility to move the greenback suddenly," Mr Ahmad noted.
He added that if the Fed indicates trade tensions risk weakening the US growth outlook, it would provide "a massive selling signal" to US dollar investors.
It was a quiet trading day here but the three local banks and industrial counters provided some spark and helped lift the STI, which added 16.92 points, or 0.53 per cent, to 3,236.08. Gainers edged out losers 198 to 158, on turnover of 1.15 billion shares worth $843.8 million.
The most actively traded counter was Nico Steel, which saw 210.9 million shares changing hands as it rose 66.67 per cent to 0.5 cent.
The firm said yesterday that it will likely see "a significant increase" in its upcoming six-month earnings due to higher revenue and margins for its own brand of metal alloy materials.
OCBC Bank gained 0.79 per cent to $11.45, UOB added 0.48 per cent to $27.01, while DBS closed at $25.84, up 0.04 per cent.
Vividthree Holdings - part-owned by mainboard-listed mm2 Asia - debuted on the Catalist board at 22.5 cents, lower than its listing price of 25 cents. It closed at 23 cents.
In other sectors, Noble Group rose 0.76 per cent after announcing yesterday that it had agreed to stand down as a note holder of debt-ridden Australian-listed miner Sundance Resources. It ended the day at 13.2 cents, up 0.1 cent.