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Singapore stocks: STI loses 4.5% on Monday afternoon

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Singapore equities resumed trading on Monday afternoon in negative territory following a steep selloff due to escalating worries over the economic repercussions of Covid-19 as well as a sharp fall in oil prices.

SINGAPORE equities resumed trading on Monday afternoon in negative territory following a steep selloff due to escalating worries over the economic repercussions of Covid-19 as well as a sharp fall in oil prices.

The Straits Times Index (STI) was down 134 points or 4.5 per cent to 2,826.98 as at 1.06pm. The STI is on track to record its worst single day performance since Oct 22, 2010's 5.2 per cent dive.

Shortly after the afternoon session began, volume traded on the Singapore bourse clocked in at 1.15 billion securities with a total turnover of S$1.21 billion. Both volume and turnover are on track to beat their respective 2019 intraday averages.

Across the market, decliners trumped advancers 458 to 70. On the bluechip index, all 30 of its counters were trading in the red.

The local banks were decidedly lower in afternoon trade. DBS shares lost S$1.43 or 6.2 per cent to S$21.57, OCBC Bank skidded S$0.48 or 4.7 per cent to S$9.73 and United Overseas Bank was trading at S$21.92, down S$1.28 or 5.5 per cent as at 1.05pm on Monday.

Before market open, Citi Research downgraded the trio to "sell" on expectations that short-term Fed interest rates are likely to hit and stay at zero for much of the rest of 2020.

Oil-related counters were among the main laggards after Opec (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) and its allies failed to agree to an output cut, leading to Saudi Arabia cutting crude prices for April delivery.

Rig builders Keppel Corp slumped S$0.41 or 6.6 per cent to S$5.81 and Sembcorp Industries plunged S$0.12 or 6.8 per cent to S$1.65.

Among oil and gas pennies, Rex International lost 5.1 Singapore cents or 28.8 per cent to 12.6 cents with 84.3 million shares changing hands, the most of the Singapore bourse.

GSS Energy dropped 1.6 Singapore cents or 21.6 per cent to 5.8 cents, while AusGroup fell 0.8 Singapore cent or 22.2 per cent to 2.8 cents.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, equity benchmarks were mired in the red with Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan all markedly lower.