February 27, 2020 / 8:46 AM / a month ago

Hong Kong stocks close higher as Beijing signals more support for economy

* Hang Seng reverses fall on stimulus hopes

* Index closes 0.3% higher, SSEC rises 0.1%

* Regional markets fall on virus fears

SHANGHAI/SINGAPORE, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Hong Kong stocks reversed earlier losses to end higher on Thursday, after Beijing indicated more support to bolster its economy pressured by the coronavirus outbreak. ** At the close of trade, the Hang Seng index was up 82.13 points or 0.31% at 26,778.62. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index rose 0.87% to 10,593.11. ** Leading the gains were property shares, with the Hang Seng properties and construction index rising 1.7%, as investors expected policy loosening to ensure China’s full-year economic goal amid the virus outbreak. ** Beijing could roll out more fiscal and monetary measures in the future, as the virus outbreak caused more downward pressure for China’s economy, analysts at Guotai Junan Securities said in note. ** The economic recovery is accelerating but the coronavirus outbreak situation in the epicentre of Hubei province and its capital Wuhan is still dire, the ruling Communist Party’s Politburo said on Wednesday, according to a state television report. ** China’s central bank said on Thursday it will ensure ample liquidity through targeted reserve requirement ratio (RRR) cuts in appropriate time.

** The central bank has taken steps to support the economy, including reducing interest rates and flushing the market with liquidity. It has also said it will provide special funds for banks to lend to businesses.

** Also helping to prop up the market were continued robust southbound flows, as mainland investors purchased more than 5 billion yuan worth of Hong Kong shares via the Stock Connect. ** Mainland China reported 433 new cases of virus infections on Wednesday, the National Health Commission said, up from 406 on the previous day. ** Governments ramped up measures to battle a global pandemic of the coronavirus as the number of infections outside China, the source of the outbreak, for the first time surpassed those appearing inside the country.

** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.13%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 2.13%.

** China’s main Shanghai Composite index closed up 0.11% ** The yuan was quoted at 7.0144 per U.S. dollar at 08:35 GMT, 0.12% firmer than the previous close of 7.023.

** The top gainers among H-shares were Anhui Conch Cement Co Ltd up 5.5%, followed by China Communications Construction Co Ltd, gaining 4.21%. ** The three biggest H-shares percentage decliners were Byd Co Ltd, which was down 1.92%, CNOOC Ltd, which fell 1.58% and China Tower Corp Ltd, down by 1.02%.

** So far this week, the market capitalisation of the Hang Seng index has fallen by 2.09% to HK$17.58 trillion. (Reporting by Luoyan Liu in Shanghai. Additional reporting by Tom Westbrook in Singapore; editing by David Evans)

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