Singapore shares closed 0.05 percent lower on Tuesday as investors began to wait for the key U. S. jobs data later this week.
The job data could provide a key clue to the timing of the U.S. Federal Reserve's interest rate increase. Friday's jobs data is widely expected to show the U.S. economy created 225,000 new jobs in July. The unemployment rate is expected to hold steady at 5.3 percent.
Monday's data showed the U.S. Institute for Supply Management's index of national factory activity slipped to 52.7 in July, falling short of market expectations that it would match last month's reading of 53.5. The weak reading, combined with the recent rout in oil prices that raised fears of disinflation, leading investors to doubt that the Federal Reserve's interest rate hike will come as early as September.
Meanwhile, China shares closed higher on Tuesday after officials announced fresh steps to rein in short selling late Monday. Under the new rules, short sellers must wait at least one day to cover their positions and pay back loans used to buy shares. Previously, investors could cover their positions within the same day, a practice regulators said added to "abnormal volatility of stock prices."
Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index fell 1.75 points to 3, 191.04 points. Trading volume was 1.96 billion shares worth 1.37 billion Singapore dollars. Advancers outnumbered decliners 233 to 207, while 501 stocks did not move.
Singapore Exchange Limited fell 1.5 percent to 7.78 Singapore dollars. The bourse operator temporarily suspended trading on its derivatives market late Monday after some trading participants experienced problems connecting to the market. It said the problem was caused by "an intermittent technical failure" and apologized for any inconvenience caused. The market opened as usual Tuesday.
Among the top gainers, Jardine Cycle and Carriage rose 2.5 percent to 30.77 Singapore dollars, whereas Jardine Matheson became one of the top losers by falling 4.6 percent to 51.59 U.S. dollars. (1 U.S. dollar equals to 1.38 Singapore dollars)