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Singapore shares continue downtrend, shed 0.4% on Wednesday

WHEN it rains, it pours. That is a very likely thought going through the minds of investors after US President Donald Trump built on his recent offensive by suggesting a US-China trade deal might not happen until after the presidential election in November 2020.

Needless to say, this sent Wall Street tumbling on Tuesday, with regional markets picking up on the slide on Wednesday.

Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) extended broad losses from the previous session to finish at 3,159.79, losing 13.29 points or 0.4 per cent.

For what it's worth, the local benchmark did not fare all too badly when compared to the sell-offs its regional peers faced.

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Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, red lights were flashing in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan. Of the lot, Australia's ASX 200 fared the worst, dropping 105.80 points or 1.6 per cent to close at 6,606.50.

In recent weeks, markets had been feeding off hope that a "Phase One" trade deal, at times giving the sense that an agreement between Beijing and Washington is a foregone conclusion. But Mr Trump's most recent admission certainly tips the scale in the other direction.

"The market was too complacent, thinking both superpowers would be able to compartmentalise these issues away from the broader trade narrative. And it appears nothing could be further from the truth as we could be a step or two away from yet another tariff war escalation," AxiTrader chief Asia market strategist Stephen Innes said.

In Singapore, trading volume stood at 1.07 billion securities, 93 per cent of the daily average in the first 10 months of 2019. Meanwhile, total turnover clocked in at S$1.37 billion, 30 per cent over the January-to-October daily average.

Across the market, decliners trumped advancers 224 to 134. Of the STI's 30 counters, 24 were in the loss column.

With 72.3 million shares changing hands, Golden Agri-Resources was the STI's most active counter. It ended one Singapore cent or 4.4 per cent lower at 21.5 cents.

The banking trio continued their retreat. DBS Group Holdings edged down S$0.06 or 0.2 per cent to S$24.92, OCBC Bank dipped S$0.04 or 0.4 per cent to S$10.65 while United Overseas Bank closed at S$25.38, down S$0.16 or 0.6 per cent.

Among the bright spots in the local market was Parkway Life Reit. Units in the healthcare-focused play gained S$0.04 or 1.2 per cent to S$3.26 after the Reit acquired three nursing rehabilitation facilities in Japan for a total of 3.7 billion yen (S$46.3 million).

Three Jardine counters also fared well. Jardine Matheson Holdings advanced US$0.70 or 1.3 per cent to US$54.61, Jardine Strategic Holdings added US$0.45 or 1.4 per cent to US$31.95 and Dairy Farm International gained US$0.12 or 2.1 per cent to US$5.89.