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Singapore stocks: STI pares steep losses at Friday afternoon reopen

SINGAPORE equities resumed trading on Friday afternoon, recovering some of the early-session losses after the global stock rout amid growing worries over the virus outbreak's economic fallout. 

Sentiment has improved slightly after reports emerged of a Canadian pharmaceutical firm claiming to have found a cure for Covid-19, while the US Congress is said to be nearing a stimulus deal with the White House.

Lending additional weight to the lift in mood was the roll-out of an unscheduled 200 billion yen (S$2.67 billion) bond-buying plan by the Bank of Japan, along with a liquidity injection.

The Straits Times Index (STI), which fell more than 6 per cent in the early minutes of Friday's session, was down 66.64 points or 2.5 per cent to 2,612.00 as at 1.04pm. The STI's 5 per cent drop at the commencement of Friday trading was its largest decline at the open since October 2008.

Shortly after the afternoon session began, volume traded on the Singapore bourse clocked in at 1.38 billion securities with a total turnover of S$1.55 billion. Both volume and turnover have already exceeded their respective 2019 intraday averages.

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Across the market, decliners trumped advancers 434 to 83. On the blue-chip index, intense sell-offs left all but five of the STI's 30 components trading in the red.

Genting Singapore was the STI's most active counter. The casino operator traded two Singapore cents or 6.5 per cent lower at 67.5 cents after 34.5 million shares changed hands.

The local banks clawed back early losses. OCBC Bank was S$0.04 or 0.4 per cent lower at S$9.07 and United Overseas Bank was trading down by S$0.23 or 1.1 per cent to S$20.30 as at 1.05pm on Friday. 

DBS performed least well of the lot, trading at S$19.27, down S$0.93 or 4.6 per cent.

The trio are trading at price levels last seen in 2017.

Among the gainers on the STI were conglomerates Keppel Corp and Sembcorp Industries, which have sizeable exposure to the offshore and marine sector. Keppel was trading S$0.11 or 2.1 per cent higher at S$5.26. Sembcorp, which is coming off a 15-year low on Thursday, gained S$0.08 or 5.1 per cent to S$1.66.

Agribusiness player Wilmar International was S$0.05 or 1.5 per cent higher at S$3.47.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, equity benchmarks were similarly battered, with Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand markedly lower.

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