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Singapore shares fall at open as banks lead losses; STI down 0.2%

SINGAPORE stocks opened slightly weaker on Thursday as banks and real estate investment trusts begin the morning in negative territory, partially offset by stronger openings from other large-cap companies. 

Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) headed down 0.2 per cent or 6.17 points to 2,567.28 as at 9.03am.

Gainers outnumbered losers 95 to 57, after 288.1 million securities worth S$679.2 million changed hands.

Index counters were in the lead by volume, with Thai Beverage Public Company being the most actively traded. The counter held steady at S$0.63 with 93.9 million shares changing hands. 

Next was Singtel, which rose 1.6 per cent or S$0.04 to S$2.54, with 21.7 million shares traded, followed by Genting Singapore, which remained unchanged at S$0.74 with 16.1 million shares traded.

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Other heavily traded securities included Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust which advanced 1.1 per cent or S$0.04 to S$3.61 with 7.9 million shares traded, as well as Yangzijiang Shipbuilding which was up 0.5 per cent or 0.5 Singapore cent to 93.5 cents with 7.5 million shares traded.

Banking stocks were in the red during early morning trade on Thursday. DBS was down 2.7 per cent or S$0.55 to S$19.85, UOB declined 1.2 per cent or S$0.24 to S$19.78, while OCBC fell 2.5 per cent or S$0.22 to S$8.68. 

The Monetary Authority of Singapore on Wednesday called on local banks to cap their total dividends per share for FY2020 at 60 per cent of the amount in the previous financial year, in a move to shore up capital amid the uncertain economic climate.

Other active index counters included Wilmar International which advanced 3.5 per cent or S$0.16 to S$4.76 and Keppel Corp, which rose 1.4 per cent or S$0.08 to S$5.68.

In the US, stocks closed higher on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve repeated a pledge to use its "full range of tools" to support the economy but cautioned that the outlook "will depend significantly on the course of the virus". 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.6 per cent to 26,539.57, the S&P 500 gained 1.2 per cent to 3,258.44 and the Nasdaq Composite added 1.4 per cent to 10,542.94. All 11 major S&P sectors ended the day higher with the energy and financial sectors leading percentage gains.

Elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo stocks opened higher on Thursday extending rallies on Wall Street. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index gained 0.4 per cent to 22,474.89 in early trade, while the broader Topix index rose 0.3 per cent to 1,553.88.

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