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Singapore shares fall at Monday's open; STI tumbles 3%

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Singapore stocks plunged on Monday following investor concern over the novel coronavirus outbreak, as cases rise in Europe and the US. Singapore's Straits Times Index headed down 3.1 per cent or 91.48 points to 2,869.50 as at 9.04am, breaking through its 52-week low.

SINGAPORE stocks plunged on Monday following investor concern over the novel coronavirus outbreak, as cases rise in Europe and the US. Singapore's Straits Times Index headed down 3.1 per cent or 91.48 points to 2,869.50 as at 9.04am, breaking through its 52-week low.

Losers outnumbered gainers 231 to 28, after 139.1 million securities worth S$187.4 million changed hands.

Commodities counters were among the most heavily traded, following a dive in oil prices, with oil exploration and production firm Rex International losing 23.2 per cent or 4.1 Singapore cents to 13.6 Singapore cents, with 11.9 million shares traded. 

AusGroup, which provides speciality services to the energy, resources and marine sectors through its subsidiaries, saw its counter fall 19.4 per cent or 0.7 Singapore cent to 2.9 cents, with 10.7 million shares traded. Meanwhile, palm oil producer Golden Agri-Resources dropped 1.5 per cent or 0.3 Singapore cent to 19.7 cents, with 5.2 million shares traded. 

Other actively traded index counters include Genting Singapore, which declined 3.2 per cent or 2.5 Singapore cents to 75 cents. 

Banking stocks were in a sea of red on Monday morning, with DBS tumbling 4.6 per cent or S$1.05 to S$21.95, UOB declined 4 per cent or S$0.93 to S$22.27, while OCBC Bank dropped 3.5 per cent or S$0.36 to S$9.85. 

Other active index counters included Singtel, which lost 1.4 per cent or S$0.04 to S$2.91 and CapitaLand which fell 1.4 per cent or S$0.05 to S$3.49. 

Elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo stocks dived over 3 per cent on novel coronavirus fears and drop in oil prices. This sent the US dollar down against the yen. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index dropped 3.4 per cent to 20,041.83 in early trade, while the broader Topix index was down 3.2 per cent at 1,423.83.

On Sunday, the UK's government said the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK rose by 30 per cent to 273, and a third person who tested positive for the virus has died. UK Finance Minister Rishi Sunak also signalled that the UK's fiscal rules could be ditched as he prepares a massive package of measures to tackle the coronavirus crisis.