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Singapore equities under pressure amid US stimulus impasse; STI dips 0.3% at open

SINGAPORE stocks pulled back on Wednesday morning alongside regional markets, following a negative lead from the US.

An impasse in US economic stimulus negotiations pushed global stocks lower and sent investors into safe-haven assets like gold, which hovered near record highs. US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he did not support everything in a US$1 trillion Senate Republican coronavirus relief proposal the day after it was unveiled, although he indicated talks were continuing.

Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) dipped 0.3 per cent or 8.13 points to 2,574.84 as at 9.23am on Wednesday.

Losers outnumbered gainers 96 to 78, after 179.4 million securities worth S$144.9 million changed hands.

The trio of local lenders slipped into the red in early trade. DBS lost S$0.11 or 0.5 per cent to S$20.39 as at 9.25am, OCBC Bank shed S$0.04 or 0.5 per cent to S$8.93, while United Overseas Bank was down S$0.06 or 0.3 per cent to S$20.05.

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The three banks are estimated to have granted payment deferments to more than S$15 billion worth of mortgages as at end-June, or almost 10 per cent of all outstanding mortgages, the Monetary Authority of Singapore told The Business Times.

Ascendas India Trust gained S$0.07 or 5.3 per cent to trade at S$1.40. On Tuesday, its manager reported a higher distribution per unit of 4.64 Singapore cents for the first half of this year, compared with the 3.75 cents paid out a year ago.

iX Biopharma was one of the most heavily traded counters by volume, declining by 1.5 Singapore cents or 4.8 per cent to 29.5 cents after about 8.1 million shares changed hands. The Catalist-listed pharmaceuticals maker on Tuesday proposed a private placement of about 44.5 million new shares at 23 cents apiece to raise S$10.2 million.

Wall Street stocks tumbled at Tuesday's close following mixed earnings and with Washington legislators appearing far apart on another round of fiscal support for the coronavirus-battered economy. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.8 per cent, the broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.7 per cent, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index fell 1.3 per cent.

In regional markets, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index futures were down 0.14 per cent early on Wednesday morning, the Australian S&P/ASX 200 was flat, while Japan's Nikkei 225 futures slipped 0.5 per cent. Tokyo's broader Topix index dropped 0.5 per cent.

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