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Regional markets track Wall Street rout amid renewed virus fears; STI falls 1.3%

AROUND the world, investors were rattled on the back of rising coronavirus case counts and looming threats of lockdowns. The upcoming US presidential election, too, contributed to a panic-induced sell-off in most markets.

Wall Street indices closed sharply lower at the end of Wednesday's session amid renewed shutdowns across European countries such as France and Germany in response to a continued rise in coronavirus cases. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 3.4 per cent; the S&P 500 lost 3.5 per cent, and the Nasdaq shed 3.7 per cent.

Notably, tech giants such as Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google (collectively known as the FAANG stocks) all fell over the course of the day as investors took flight.

The benchmark Straits Times Index booked its fourth consecutive day of losses, closing 1.3 per cent or 32.8 points lower at 2,450.68. Decliners outnumbered advancers 280 to 159, after 1.2 billion securities worth S$1.21 billion changed hands.

Regional markets too took their cue from Wall Street, closing lower across the board. The Hang Seng Index fell 0.5 per cent, while the Nikkei 225 closed 0.4 per cent lower. The broader Topix also fell 0.1 per cent.

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Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at Axi, said: "Global markets trembled Wednesday as a disquieting rise in coronavirus infections shattered investors' psyche, and now pose a clear and present danger to a nestling economic recovery."

"While the market is clearly in the process of resetting Q4 expectations, the potentially favourable tailwinds of a vaccine, a Brexit deal and cleaner positioning cannot be overlooked," he added.

Only six out of the 30 constituent stocks ended the day in the black. Jardine Strategic Holdings emerged the biggest gainer. The stock added US$0.40 or 1.9 per cent to close at US$21.98.

Riverstone Holdings was among the top advancers. The counter gained 8 per cent, or S$0.29 to end the day at S$3.93. Other glove makers, too, rose on the back of renewed Covid-19 fears. Top Glove gained 1.4 per cent, or S$0.04 to S$2.89, while UG Healthcare rose 2.8 per cent or 2.5 Singapore cents to S$0.92.

On the other end of the spectrum, banks were among the biggest losers. DBS slipped 1.6 per cent or S$0.34 to S$20.56; UOB fell 1.5 per cent or S$0.29 to S$19.11, while OCBC closed at S$8.46, down 1.1 per cent or S$0.09.

Most real estate investment trusts (Reits) also finished in the red. Ascendas Reit fell 1.96 per cent or S$0.06 to S$3.00, while CapitaMall Trust fell 3.3 per cent or S$0.06 to S$1.76. Mapletree Reits, too, closed lower. Mapletree Commercial Trust lost 4.3 per cent or S$0.08 to S$1.77; Mapletree Industrial Trust fell 0.6 per cent or S$0.02 to S$3.12, and Mapletree Logistics Trust shed 2 per cent or S$0.04 to S$1.98.

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