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Singapore shares fall 0.8%

SINGAPORE shares closed lower on Wednesday, snapping a three-day winning streak as the vaccine-led rally got a much-needed reality check.

The Straits Times Index fell 19.39 points or 0.75 per cent to finish at 2,561.94 on Wednesday. In the year to date, the index is down just over 20 per cent.

Risk-on sentiments took a step back as doubts emerged over Moderna’s vaccine, crushing hopes that had fuelled euphoria across the markets earlier this week.

The directionless trading in US stocks overnight was an added dampener, and Singapore’s announcement the day before that circuit-breaker restrictions will be lifted in three phases beginning June 2 failed to boost the mood.

In addition, risks from US-China tensions persist.

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Stephen Innes, AxiCorp’s global chief market strategist, said: “We have all got our mitts full of Covid-19, for sure. But just as lockdowns are starting to ease, tensions between the US and China look set to spoil whatever little was going to be left of a summer reprieve.

“As with the tariff spat last year, the economic impact isn’t just confined to the two combatants: smaller economies across Asia are often equally, if not more, exposed - certainly not what the global economy needs now."

Key gauges across much of the region posted gains, including in Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan; China’s indices closed lower.

On the Singapore bourse, some 1.48 billion shares worth S$1.16 billion were traded. Among the STI constituents, losers trounced gainers with 20 counters down and eight counters up.

Losses were led by Jardine Matheson, which fell US$1.07 to US$42.82. OCBC retreated by eight Singapore cents to S$8.92.

The day’s most active was Secura Group. Sixty-four million of its shares worth S$5 million changed hands. The counter rose 1.4 Singapore cents or 21 per cent to 8.2 Singapore cents. In a response to a query from SGX RegCo, Secura said it was unaware of any information which might explain the unusual volume movements.

Thai Beverage closed 0.5 Singapore cent or 0.8 per cent lower to 65.5 Singapore cents. OCBC Investment Research has downgraded the stock to “hold” on the back of waning sales and social-distancing measures in Thailand. 

UG Healthcare bucked the general market trend and added two Singapore cents or 6.3 per cent to 34 Singapore cents. The Catalist-listed firm said on Tuesday evening that its gloves and ancillary products were chalking up higher orders amid the pandemic and its facilities were operating at “optimum production efficiency”.

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