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Singapore shares extend slide, closing 0.6% lower on Thursday

MOST markets in the region continued to slide after a lacklustre session on Wall Street where investors were jittery over the US economic outlook, with mounting tensions in the US-China trade row and growth worries denting sentiment in Asia further.

At a press briefing on Thursday, Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Hanhui said that while Beijing was against a trade war, it was not afraid. The already fragile investor sentiment was further shaken on the growing sense that China could use rare-earth metals as a countermeasure to US tariffs. 

Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) closed at 3,143.00, down 20.28 points or 0.6 per cent. Like the local market, Australia, China, Hong Kong and Japan posted losses. Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, Malaysia and South Korea finished higher.

After slipping 1.3 per cent to its lowest level since Jan 4 on Wednesday, South Korea's Kospi index rebounded, adding one per cent to 2,038.80.

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"While some regional markets had edged higher alongside the relief, the likes of the trade-dependent Singapore market can be seen remaining under stress with the short-term impact from the prolonging of the trade impasse expected to be negative," IG market strategist Pan Jingyi said.

In Singapore, trading volume clocked in at 1.25 billion securities, just under the daily average in the first four months of 2019. Total turnover came to S$1.07 billion, 4.5 per cent above the January-to-April daily average.

Across the market, decliners outpaced advancers 207 to 146. With broad-based losses, the benchmark index had 21 of the STI's 30 components in the red.

Singtel was the benchmark index's most traded stock, with 38.5 million shares changing hands. The telco shares built on Wednesday's gains to add two Singapore cents or 0.6 per cent to S$3.20.

The banking trio was lower. DBS Group Holdings ended S$0.25 or one per cent lower at S$24.60, OCBC Bank dropped S$0.15 or 1.4 per cent lower at S$10.74 while United Overseas Bank closed at S$23.89, falling S$0.22 or 0.9 per cent.

Among blue-chip index constituents, Dairy Farm International shares dropped US$0.19 or 2.4 per cent to US$7.64.