Singapore shares open weaker as stricter Covid-19 curbs take effect; STI down 0.6%

Losers outnumbered gainers 112 to 81, after 103.3 million securities worth $126.1 million changed hands. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Singapore stocks started the week lower after phase two (heightened alert) commenced on Sunday (May 16). This resulted in tightened restrictions on gatherings, a ban on dining in and reduced capacity limits for events, attractions, shopping malls and libraries.

All primary, secondary, junior college and Millennia Institute students, including students from special education schools, will also shift to full home-based learning from Wednesday till the end of the term on May 28, Singapore's multi-ministry task force (MTF) on Covid-19 said on Sunday.

On the Singapore bourse, the Straits Times Index (STI) headed down 0.6 per cent, or 19.02 points, to 3,036 as at 9.04am on Monday.

Losers outnumbered gainers 112 to 81, after 103.3 million securities worth $126.1 million changed hands.

The most active counter by volume was Jiutian Chemical, which rose 4.4 per cent, or 0.4 cent, to 9.5 cents, with 11.8 million shares changing hands.

Other heavily traded securities included Sembcorp Marine, which fell 1.1 per cent, or 0.2 cent, to 17.7 cents, with 4.9 million shares traded, as well as ComfortDelGro, which was down 0.6 per cent, or one cent, to $1.57, with four million shares traded.

Sheng Siong was down 2.4 per cent, or four cents, to $1.62. The supermarket operator saw its shares surge to an intraday high of $1.68 last Friday, up 12 per cent, or 18 cents, half an hour after the task force on Covid-19 announced tighter restrictions on food and beverage operators.

Banking stocks fell during the early morning trade. DBS dropped 1.6 per cent, or 47 cents, to $28.82, UOB lost 1.4 per cent, or 36 cents, to $25.01, while OCBC declined by 0.5 per cent, or six cents, to $11.66.

Other active index counters included Singtel, which was down 0.9 per cent, or two cents, to $2.30, and Singapore Airlines, which fell 1.6 per cent, or seven cents, to $4.43.

In the US, stocks rebounded last Friday despite lacklustre economic data and disappointing retail sales. The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.1 per cent to close at 34,382.13, while the broad-based S&P 500 increased 1.5 per cent to 4,173.85. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 2.3 per cent to finish the week at 13,429.98.

European stocks jumped last Friday, after the Federal Reserve said there would be no imminent move to tighten monetary policy. The pan-European Stoxx 600 index rose 1.1 per cent, with oil and gas and retail stocks leading the gains.

Elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo stocks opened higher on Monday. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was up 0.7 per cent to 28,272.67 in early trade, while the broader Topix index gained 0.7 per cent to 1,897.12.

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