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Singapore shares sink 1% at Friday's open after Trump announces Mexico tariffs

SINGAPORE stocks opened sharply weaker on Friday (May 31) after US President Donald Trump opened a new front in the trade war by announcing plans to impose a 5 per cent tariff on all imported goods from Mexico beginning June 10.

Mr Trump tweeted the tax would "gradually increase" until Mexico stopped the flow of illegal immigrants across the border.

The Straits Times Index dropped 31.51 points or 1 per cent to 3,111.49 at 9.04am. The benchmark recovered some ground soon after and was trading down 20.24 points or 0.6 per cent at 3,122.76 at 9:30am.

On the Singapore bourse at 9:04am, losers outnumbered gainers 97 to 35, or about 11 securities down for every four up, after 60.3 million securities worth S$170.5 million changed hands.

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Among the most heavily traded by volume, Singtel headed down 0.9 per cent or S$0.03 to S$3.17 with 5.5 million shares traded. Genting Singapore shed 0.6 per cent or S$0.005 to S$0.87 with 3.5 million shares traded.

Singapore banking stocks also opened lower, with DBS Group Holdings down 1.1 per cent or S$0.27 to S$24.33; United Overseas Bank fell 0.8 per cent or S$0.19 to S$23.70; and OCBC Bank was down 1.4 per cent or S$0.15 to S$10.59.

In the region, Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei 225 index slid 0.79 per cent, or 164.66 points, at 20,777.87 in early trade, while the Topix index was down 0.77 per cent, or 11.72 points, at 1,520.26. Shares in automakers with Mexico plants dropped sharply. 

Overnight, US and Europe markets rose, with Wall Street stocks seeing modest gains on Thursday after two straight declines, even as petroleum-linked shares tumbled with oil prices, according to AFP. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average mustered a 0.2 per cent gain, rising to 25,169.88, while the S&P 500 added 0.2 per cent at 2,788.86. The Nasdaq Composite Index meanwhile rose 0.3 per cent to 7,567.72.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 gained 0.4 per cent on the day, with media firms' shares rising 1.8 per cent, while Germany's DAX rose 0.5 per cent. Spanish stocks meanwhile rose 0.9 per cent.