May 4, 2020 / 8:59 AM / 3 months ago

HK stocks see worst day in 6 weeks as U.S.-China tensions simmer

* Hang Seng falls 4.2%, most in a day since March 23

* U.S. Pompeo says ‘significant evidence’ virus emerged from lab

* White House yanking global supply chains from China -officials

* Hong Kong Q1 GDP estimates out 0830 GMT; mainland markets closed

HONG KONG, May 4 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares marked their biggest daily drop in six weeks on Monday, as investors braced for an escalation in U.S.-China tensions and the release of the city’s economic growth data.

** The Hang Seng Index ended 4.2% lower at 23,613.80, its biggest percentage fall since March 23, trading at near two-week lows for much of the session. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index fell 4.4%.

** The sub-index of the Hang Seng tracking energy shares dropped 6.8%, the IT sector fell 3.6%, the financial sector lost almost 4% and the property sector was down 4.2%.

** While U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there was evidence of the new coronavirus emerging from a lab in Wuhan, China’s Global Times, run by the Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said in an editorial he was “bluffing”.

** Officials in the Trump administration said they are “turbocharging” an initiative to remove global industrial supply chains from China.

** Hong Kong published its GDP estimates for the first quarter on Monday at 0830 GMT after the stock market closed. The government has vowed record budget spending to cushion the economic disruption from the virus.

** “The bottom line is HK is far from perfect but a twin easing by China and the U.S. will boost domestic liquidity conditions under the rules of operating a pegged exchange rate,” Jefferies’ analysts wrote in a note on Monday.

** “From a bottom-up basis, there is a large enough population of dividend growers with acceptable yield and high dividend cover to choose from,” they added.

** Hong Kong stocks took much of the heat on Monday with Mainland China’s markets closed for a public holiday until Wednesday. The offshore yuan weakened to a six-week low in early trade, extending Friday’s fall.

** About 2.56 billion Hang Seng index shares were traded. The volume traded in the previous trading session was 1.65 billion. (Reporting by Noah Sin; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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