SINGAPORE, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Singapore shares closed 0.35 percent lower on Monday, as most investors were sidelined as the government unveiled the budget for 2017.
DBS Group Research believes that the emphasis of the budget this year will be on helping companies and citizens cope with immediate economic challenges while maintaining an eye on medium-term restructuring of the economy. The budget is likely to be "business friendly" with a predominant focus on enterprise development instead of social issues.
Investors also turned cautious this week due to political uncertainty in Europe, and a number of Federal Reserve officials due to speak in next few days.
DBS said: "we maintain our view that Straits Times Index's year-to-date rally should come to pause soon but no major correction is seen. We peg a range from 3,050 points to 3,150 points with firm support at 3,000 points."
"Improving optimism that the Singapore economy is turning for the better and the April-May ex-dividend period offsets uncertainty over a possible March rate hike and the French elections in April," it said.
Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index fell 10.96 points to 3,096.69 points. Trading volume was 2.63 billion shares worth 1.06 billion Singapore dollars. Decliners outnumbered advancers 274 to 196.
Ezion Holdings fell 7.9 percent to 35 Singapore cents. It issued profit warning, saying that as the market conditions of the global oil and gas industry remain uncertain.
The company has carried out an assessment on the impairments of its assets. While the value of the impairments is yet to be determined, Ezion is expected to record a net loss for the fourth quarter and full year of 2016 from this exercise.
Among top gainers, CapitaLand rose 1.2 percent to 3.50 Singapore dollars, while Jardine Matheson became one of the top losers by falling 1.7 percent to 63.86 U.S. dollars. (1 U.S. dollar equals to 1.42 Singapore dollars)