Weak market sentiment drove stocks lower yesterday as North Korea vowed to step up its nuclear weapons programme in response to fresh sanctions against it.
The benchmark Straits Times Index lost 5.33 points or 0.16 per cent to end the day at 3,230.36.
All three local banks closed lower or unchanged. DBS Group Holdings shed 11 cents or 0.5 per cent to $20.38, United Overseas Bank lost 10 cents or 0.4 per cent to close at $23.22 and OCBC was flat at $11.
Profit-taking may be behind the withdrawal on the home front, suggested CMC Markets Singapore analyst Margaret Yang.
IG Asia strategist Pan Jingyi said in a note: "Trapped in a short-term downtrend, the recent weak sentiment has taken a toll on the local market. Having said that, the positive growth situation in the US and around the region certainly does not warrant a continued decline."
One hot stock was electronics services provider Venture Corp, which shot up $1.50 or 9.8 per cent to close at $16.75, a day after chief executive Wong Ngit Liong showed confidence in the business by buying 400,000 shares for $6.1 million. About 3.9 million shares changed hands, with the counter surging to a high of $16.80, prompting a query from the Singapore Exchange.
RHB analyst Jarick Seet told Bloomberg: "The buying sends a good positive signal, and the market is speculating that maybe third- quarter results could even be better than the second-quarter results, which means that the street consensus is too low."
Insurer Great Eastern also rose, despite media reports that more than 300 of its agents have been poached by a competitor. It added nine cents or 0.3 per cent to $26.
Fresh off the news of a €66 million (S$106 million) Dublin data centre purchase, Keppel DC Reit still lost half a cent or 0.4 per cent to close at $1.29.
DBS Equity Research analyst Derek Tan maintained a "buy" call on the counter and raised the target price from $1.40 to $1.44, with the expectation that the latest asset will help to lift distribution per unit (DPU). But he cautioned: "We believe future acquisitions are likely to tap on equity fund raising, which implies potential DPU dilution."
Elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo added 0.45 per cent and Shanghai 0.14 per cent. But Seoul shed 0.22 per cent, amid the latest flare-up of tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Apple's delay in shipping its latest iPhone is also expected to take a toll on critical electronics component suppliers in emerging markets.
The greenback's gains against the yen have spurred traders in Japan. Still, Mr Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia at Oanda, wrote of the US dollar's moves: "This buoyant risk sentiment should be cheered, but (foreign exchange) traders remain in the Nervous Nellie camp waiting for the next chaotic patch... The next few weeks and months come with significant risk."