The Singapore bourse began the week on a dour note, led by a trifecta of factors - the pandemic, the United States election and corporate earnings season.
The key Straits Times Index (STI) fell 14.08 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 2,523.31 yesterday as Covid-19 cases hit record numbers in the US and several European countries.
This week marks the final stretch before the high-stakes US presidential election on Nov 3, and the market focus will also be on the earnings season, with tech giants in the US set to release their report card.
Across the region, key gauges in Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia and Malaysia closed in the red. Hong Kong was closed for holidays.
"US political drama will continue to be the major market moving factor for the upcoming week and probably beyond," said FXTM chief market strategist Hussein Sayed.
"So far, betting odds continue to show Biden in the lead with a 66 per cent chance of winning the election, according to RealClearPolitics. However, chances of a blue wave have dropped to 50 per cent, suggesting a more volatile market reaction to the result on Nov 3."
Yesterday's muted trading also comes ahead of Brexit's looming deadline on Saturday.
Several key monetary policy meetings are in the offing in the euro zone, Canada and Japan.
Analysts expect the European Central Bank to pave the way for more stimulus as challenges mount with rising Covid-19 cases, a Brexit trade deal and the rising risk of a double-dip recession.
Many countries will report their third-quarter gross domestic product estimates. CIMB Private Banking economist Song Seng Wun expects the US, the euro zone, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea to report sharp rebounds following the collapse in the second quarter.
Overall trading volume in the local market stood at 1.27 billion shares worth $885.60 million.
Among STI constituents, 10 counters were up and 18, down.
The losses were led by DBS Bank, United Overseas Bank and OCBC Bank, which collectively shaved 10.26 index points off the STI.
Keppel Corp fell three cents, or 0.7 per cent, to $4.48. It is set to release its third-quarter business and operational updates on Thursday.
Singapore Airlines bucked the general trend and rose four cents, or 1.12 per cent, to $3.62. Last week, it said it will start three weekly non-stop flights to New York in November, amid "early signs of optimism".