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Singapore shares fall as GDP forecasts weigh; STI down 0.7% at open

SINGAPORE stocks opened weaker on Thursday, following the Ministry of Trade and Industry's downgrade of the Republic's official growth forecast for 2020 into negative territory. 

The forecast was further downgraded to a wider range of between -4 and -1 per cent, compared with the -0.5 to 1.5 per cent range posted in February.

On Thursday morning, the Straits Times Index headed down 0.7 per cent or 18.42 points to 2,487.05 as at 9.03am.

Losers outnumbered gainers 107 to 47, after 58 million securities worth S$104.3 million changed hands.

The most active counter by volume was Singtel, which fell 1.2 per cent or S$0.03 to S$2.57, with 3.6 million shares traded. Other heavily traded securities include Rex International, which fell 2.2 per cent or 0.2 Singapore cent to nine cents, with 3.1 million shares traded and Thai Beverage Public Company, which was up 3.5 per cent or two Singapore cents to 58.5 cents, with 3.1 million shares traded. 

Banking stocks were down in early morning trade. DBS was down 2 per cent or S$0.39 to S$19.03 on a cum-dividend basis, UOB fell 1.9 per cent or S$0.38 to S$19.64 on a cum-dividend basis, while OCBC Bank dropped 2.1 per cent or S$0.19 to S$8.70 on a cum-dividend basis. 

Other active index counters included Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust which was down 1.5 per cent or S$0.04 to S$2.69 and Jardine Matheson Holdings which advanced 3.9 per cent or US$1.75 to US$47.04.

Elsewhere in the region, Tokyo's Nikkei fell more than 3 per cent on Thursday's open on profit-taking after surging in recent sessions. The Nikkei 225 index dropped 3.1 per cent to 18,935.36 in early trade, while the broader Topix index fell 2.6 per cent to 1,387.01.

In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which had been falling steadily in recent weeks, rose 2.4 per cent to end at 21,200.55. The S&P 500 was up 1.2 per cent to close at 2,475.56, while the Nasdaq fell 0.5 per cent to finish at 7,384.30.

European stocks ended higher on Wednesday, with the pan-European Stoxx 600 index closing higher by 3.1 per cent, after trading both in negative territory and as much as almost 5 per cent higher.