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Singapore shares fall at Friday's open, tracking US losses; STI down 0.6%

SINGAPORE stocks opened lower on Friday, tracking Wall Street losses overnight.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) fell 0.6 per cent or 15.66 points to 2,499.58 as at 9.05am. Losers outnumbered gainers 82 to 79, after 106.2 million securities worth S$238.2 million changed hands.

Among the most active counters by volume was Singtel, which lost 1.6 per cent or S$0.04 to S$2.47, with 9.7 million shares changing hands. The telco on Thursday posted a 25.7 per cent drop in net profit to S$574.4 million for its fourth quarter ended March 31.

Among other heavily traded securities was Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), which fell 3.4 per cent or S$0.05 to S$1.41, with six million shares changing hands. On Thursday, SPH extended free access to its e-newspapers, provided by the National Library Board, beyond the "circuit-breaker" period which will end on June 1.

Meanwhile, Genting Singapore lost 0.7 per cent or 0.5 Singapore cent to 77 cents, with five million shares traded. 

The trio of local banks all fell in early morning trade. DBS was down 0.9 per cent or S$0.18 at S$19.46, OCBC lost 0.8 per cent or S$0.07 to S$8.58, while UOB dropped 0.8 per cent or S$0.16 to S$19.68.

Other active index counters include the Singapore Exchange (SGX), which rose 1.7 per cent or S$0.14 to S$8.29. Shares of SGX fell almost 7 per cent on Thursday, and 11 per cent on Wednesday, following news that it will no longer offer MSCI equity index futures and options contracts - save for those under MSCI Singapore - when their licences expire in February next year.

CapitaLand lost 1 per cent or S$0.03 to S$2.86. The property developer on Thursday announced it had obtained a four-year S$500 million sustainability-linked loan from UOB.

ComfortDelGro Corp slipped 0.7 per cent or S$0.01 to S$1.49. On Thursday, the group said it will halve taxi rents for June, a move expected to push it further into the red.

Wall Street pulled back on Thursday after US President Donald Trump announced he would hold a press conference regarding China on Friday. The announcement follows strong US criticism of a security law allowing Beijing to tighten its grip on Hong Kong. Mr Trump has also blamed China for the novel coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 100,000 Americans and added new uncertainty to his re-election prospects.

The twin developments have investors fearing the return of a revived US-China trade war.

Meanwhile, European stocks rose for a fourth straight session on Thursday, as optimism over businesses returning to work and stimulus for the battered eurozone economy outweighed rising US-China tensions.

In Asia, Tokyo stocks opened lower on Friday, tracking falls on Wall Street, on rising tensions between Washington and Beijing.

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