February 1, 2017 / 5:08 AM / a year ago

Hong Kong stocks ease on growing concern over U.S., China data gives support

HONG KONG, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Hong Kong stocks fell on Wednesday as traders returned from a long holiday and caught up to losses in overseas markets amid growing worries over the policies of new U.S. President Donald Trump.

The benchmark Hang Seng index slid 0.71 percent by lunch break to 23,195.23 points in the first day of trading since Friday. The China Enterprises Index fell 0.99 percent, to 9,707.15 points.

“The market was very cautious on the uncertainty of what will happen next under the Trump administration,” said Steven Leung, a director at UOB Kay Hian. “However, China’s manufacturing data provided some support to the cautious sentiment.”

China’s manufacturing sector grew slightly faster than expected in January as the world’s second-largest economy continued to benefit from record bank lending and a construction boom.

Consumer staples Want Want China Holdings Ltd, which jumped 11.6 percent last week, led the slide in the main index falling 3.1 percent.

Energy stocks also fell, with PetroChina Co Ltd declining 2.6 percent to its lowest in three weeks.

The greenback sagged against its major peers after Trump and his top economic adviser took aim at the currency policies of key U.S. trade partners, further raising concern that Washington was poised to actively weaken the dollar.

Hong Kong’s Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Chan Ka-keung, warned on Wednesday that markets globally could be adversely affected by growing political instability in Europe and by policy changes ushered in under President Trump.

China’s markets are shut for the Lunar New Year holiday and will resume trade on Friday.

Reporting by Donny Kwok and Michelle Price; Editing by Randy Fabi

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