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Singapore shares fall at Tuesday's open; STI down 0.54%

SINGAPORE shares slipped in the first few minutes of trade on Tuesday, with the Straits Times Index losing 0.54 per cent, or 17.47 points to 3,241.19 as at 9am. 

Decliners outnumbered advancers 66 to 36, after 31 million shares worth S$54.1 million changed hands. 

Among the most heavily traded by volume, Singtel was flat at S$3.22 with 4.4 million shares traded, while Yangzijiang Shipbuilding gained 0.9 per cent, or one Singapore cent to S$1.09, with 1.8 million shares traded. Shares of Yangzijiang Shipbuilding climbed 8 per cent overnight on hopes that the company's executive chairman Ren Yuanlin may return soon to helm the group.

Banking stocks were down in the early morning trade - DBS dropped 0.9 per cent, or 24 cents to S$26.36 on an ex-dividend basis, United Overseas Bank slipped 1.5 per cent, or 39 cents to S$26.54, and OCBC Bank shed 0.6 per cent, or seven cents to S$11.12.

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Other active index stocks included City Developments which fell 1.8 per cent, or 20 cents to S$10.80, and Jardine Matheson Holdings which lost 1.4 per cent, or 81 US cents to US$56.39. 

ST Engineering slipped almost 1 per cent, or four cents to S$4.16, after the company on Tuesday said it has divested its pilot training business in Australia for S$9.3 million on a cash-free and debt-free basis to Regional Express Holdings.

Oxley also dipped 1.4 per cent, or 0.5 cent to 35.5 cents. The company announced on Monday that it had pared its stake in United Engineers to below 10 per cent after selling some 62 million shares, representing a 9.73 per cent interest in the open market. 

In the US, Wall Street stocks edged to new records overnight, amid optimism over the upcoming holiday season. The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all finished with slight gains.

Elsewehere in Asia, equities started trading softer on Tuesday, as the uncertain progress of the US-China trade negotiations weighed on investors' sentiment. 

Japan's Nikkei fell 0.2 per cent in early trade, while Australian stocks were flat with trading volumes light.