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Surge in Covid-19 cases weigh on markets, STI down 1.3%

SINGAPORE shares fell alongside most Asian equity markets on Wednesday, following a surge in coronavirus cases. 

Optimism from hopes of a vaccine and the European Union recovery fund, which fuelled Tuesday’s gains, was dented by US President Donald Trump's comments on the gravity of the pandemic.

He said that the Covid-19 pandemic in the US will “get worse before it gets better” as the US registered more than 140,000 deaths from the virus.

OCBC Investment Research said that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's comments - that the US wants to build a global coalition to counter China - also weighed on the markets; he accused China of exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to further its own interests.

The Straits Times Index (STI) fell 34.92 points, or 1.3 per cent, to 2,594.53

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Decliners outpaced advancers 314 to 163, as 1.55 billion shares worth S$1.15 billion changed hands.

None of the STI constituents registered gains for the day. CapitaLand Commercial Trust, CapitaLand Mall Trust, Genting Singapore and Mapletree Industrial Trust ended the day unchanged. 

At the bottom of the STI table were Dairy Farm International, which fell 3.4 per cent to US$4.26, and Singtel, which declined 2.4 per cent to S$2.48.

Thai Beverage remained the most heavily traded counter from Tuesday, with more than 41 million shares changing hands. Its shares fell 2.3 per cent to 64.5 Singapore cents, leaving the counter among the STI's bottom three. 

Local lenders ended the day lower, following a DBS Group Research report after trading hours on Tuesday that had said that dividend cuts by Singapore banks may happen “as early as” the upcoming payout to be announced in the second quarter. DBS fell 1.5 per cent to S$21.08, UOB declined 1.4 per cent S$20.40, and OCBC Bank slipped 1.4 per cent to S$9.08.

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