SINGAPORE, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- Singapore shares closed 0.17 percent higher on Tuesday, amid cautious sentiment as investors were grappling with weak U.S. corporate results and outlook.
U.S. stocks fell overnight after heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar Incorporated slashed its 2012 forecast and warned that the global economy was slowing more quickly than it had expected. With the corporate reporting season getting underway in the region, local investors have stayed cautious, especially in the wake of weak U.S. earning reports and outlook.
Several central banks will hold policy meeting this week, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of Canada and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, but all of them are expected to keep rates on hold but may offer dovish statements.
OCBC Investment Research said "the market is probably discounting corporate earnings because expectations are not very high," adding that "estimates may be a little bit too optimistic. We are expecting to see downward revisions because we have been seeing some of the numbers are meeting expectations or just slightly below."
The benchmark Straits Times Index inched up 5.26 points to close at 3,050.93 points. Trading volume was 1.71 billion shares worth 1.01 billion Singapore dollars. Decliners outnumbered advancers 244 to 167, while 552 stocks closed unchanged.
Among top actives, Golden Agri-Resources gained 1.6 percent to 64.5 Singapore cents. Malaysia conglomerate Sime Darby said it is expecting a "pretty hefty rebound" over the next year. Sime Darby is also the largest plantation owner globally, while Golden Agri is the second largest.
Raffles Medical Group ended flat at 2.53 Singapore dollars. It said its net profit in the third quarter rose 7 percent to 12.7 million Singapore dollars from a year ago. CIMB Research raised the target price of Raffles Medical to 3.52 Singapore dollars from 2.96 Singapore dollars and kept its 'outperform' rating, as the research house expects the healthcare provider to see operating efficiency.
CapitaMall Trust rose 0.5 percent to 2.14 Singapore dollars. DMG and Partners Securities Research upgraded the trust to "buy" from "hold" and raised its target price to 2.36 Singapore dollars from 2.03 Singapore dollars, citing higher contributions from new shopping malls. The research house said "as the hunt for dividend yield plays continues on the back of high liquidity, prolonged low interest rate environment and a strong Singapore currency, we believe CapitaMall Trust has room for further upside."
Among the top gainers, Jardine Matheson rose 3.5 percent to 61. 50 U.S. dollars, whereas APB became one of the top losers by falling 0.4 percent to 52.44 Singapore dollars. (1 U.S. dollar equals to 1.22 Singapore dollars)