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Singapore shares fall at open after MAS eases monetary policy; STI down 2.4%

SINGAPORE stocks opened weaker after the Republic's central bank pulled back on its exchange rate-based monetary policy on Monday morning.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has returned the Singapore dollar to a neutral stance, easing again the pace at which the currency can strengthen. It also lowered the mid-point of the policy band for the first time since the global financial crisis in April 2009.

On the Singapore bourse, the Straits Times Index headed down 2.4 per cent or 60.25 points to 2,468.51 as at 9.03am.

Losers outnumbered gainers 159 to 34 after 46.5 million securities worth S$83.7 million changed hands.

The most active counter was Singtel, which fell 2 per cent or S$0.05 to S$2.52, with 5.1 million shares changing hands. Other heavily traded securities included Genting Singapore, which fell 4.5 per cent or three Singapore cents to 63.5 cents, with 3.6 million shares traded, as well as ComfortDelGro Corporation, which was down 0.7 per cent or S$0.01 to S$1.54, with 2.1 million shares traded. 

Banking stocks opened weaker in early morning trade. DBS fell 3.5 per cent or S$0.66 to S$18.48, UOB dropped 2.4 per cent or S$0.49 to S$19.72 on a cum-dividend basis, while OCBC Bank was down 2.3 per cent or S$0.20 to S$8.71 on a cum-dividend basis. 

Other active index counters included Singapore Airlines which fell 4 per cent or S$0.24 to S$5.84 and SATS which fell 1.5 per cent or S$0.05 to S$3.33. 

Elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo stocks fell 3 per cent on Monday's open amid coronavirus fears, with a higher yen against the US dollar also weighing on the market. The Nikkei 225 was down 3.3 per cent to 18,757.93 in early trade, while the Topix index dropped 3.2 per cent to 1,413.19.

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