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Singapore shares continue losing streak, drop 0.4% on Thursday

THE Singapore market was not exempt from the sea of red that continued to hit Asian markets since the US President tweeted that tariffs will be increased on Chinese imports from Friday.

Even though the local benchmark extended Wednesday's losses to slip 14.14 points or 0.4 per cent to 3,269.70, it fared better than its regional peers ahead of what has become a very crucial juncture in US-China trade negotiations.

Between the Singapore market's Wednesday and Thursday close, the MSCI Asia-Pacific Index slipped 1.1 per cent.

Volumes continued to be heavy, clocking in at 1.35 billion securities or 10 per cent over the daily average in the first four months of 2019. Meanwhile, total turnover came to S$1.33 billion, 29 per cent more than the January-to-April daily average.

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Across the market, decliners outpaced advancers 288 to 141. Meanwhile, the benchmark index had 18 of the STI's 30 components trading in the red.  

The banking trio were mixed on Thursday.

DBS Group Holdings added two cents or 0.1 per cent to close at S$26.60 while United Overseas Bank dropped S$0.25 or 1 per cent at S$25.48. OCBC Bank, which reports first-quarter earnings before market open on Friday, slipped S$0.13 or 1.1 per cent to close at S$11.31.

Singtel was the blue-chip index's most traded with 30.2 million shares changing hands. The telco closed three Singapore cents or 1 per cent higher at S$3.14.

On Thursday, ARA US Hospitality Trust made its trading debut on the Singapore Exchange's (SGX's) mainboard at US$0.875 per stapled security, but closed at its IPO price of US$0.88. The stapled security comprises ARA US Hospitality Property Trust and ARA US Hospitality Management Trust.

Most attention on the day was placed on developments surrounding Best World International, which resumed trading on Thursday, only to have trading in its shares suspended by the SGX. At 3.14pm - the time of the suspension - its shares were down 26 Singapore cents or 16 per cent to S$1.36, on a volume of 28.8 million.

The bourse is looking into the accuracy of the skincare maker and distributor's announcement refuting an April report by shortseller Bonitas Research into Best World's business in China.

"Trading suspension will continue until we have completed our investigations into the veracity of the company's China sales," SGX said.

Best World said on Thursday that the company and its founders - Dora Hoan and Doreen Tan - have on May 3 started defamation proceedings against Bonitas Research and its founder in the Singapore High Court.