THE Singapore market seemed to be on track to erasing most of Wednesday's losses, as a fresh buying wave brought morning cheer yesterday.
But due to a weak opening in Europe and a negative lead from Hong Kong, most gains were eroded in the afternoon.
The net result was a flat finish for the Straits Times Index (STI), which closed just 0.78 point higher at 3,062.89. However, volumes were higher than usual, with 1.99 billion shares worth $1.43 billion changing hands.
The action was centred mainly on Genting Singapore, commodity-related counters Noble Group and Golden Agri-Resources, and penny stocks such as GSH Corp and TT International.
A broker said: "Investors want to trade more. Some are hungry for fresh opportunities, but a good number are still fearful over the European crisis."
Key regional markets ended mixed. The gains were brightest in Japan, where the Nikkei 225 surged 1.88 per cent as the yen weakened against the US dollar.
In contrast, Hong Kong shares dipped 0.45 per cent. Australian stocks added 1.14 per cent, while South Korean counters inched up 0.05 per cent.
Phillip Securities Research noted: "Markets in Asia also failed to respond to the previous day's retail sales, with fears over a hard landing in China reigning."
Back home, the 30 STI component stocks ended mixed, with 14 gainers, 13 losers and three unchanged.
Genting enjoyed significant investor attention after Macquarie upgraded the counter from "neutral" to "outperform" while raising its target price from $1.55 to $1.70.
The casino operator rose 3.5 cents to $1.345 with 150 million shares changing hands, making it the most heavily traded STI stock.
Macquarie noted: "We admit the second-quarter result was weak, but believe this was dragged down by a number of factors that should start to get resolved from the fourth quarter, driving a recovery in profitability that could positively surprise investors."
Wilmar International was again on investors' radar screens after announcing second-quarter results a day earlier. It rallied seven cents to $3.22 after sinking 7 per cent on Wednesday.
Citigroup noted: "We continue to see Wilmar as a key conduit for Asia's rising food needs. It has continued to see steady market share gains and volume growth for its key divisions."
Fellow commodity counter Noble also enjoyed a positive outing, adding 2.5 cents to $1.255.