February 4, 2019 / 5:02 AM / 6 months ago

Hong Kong stocks inch higher ahead of Lunar New Year holiday

* HSI +0.1 pct, HSCE -0.4; Mainland markets shut

* China services sector moderates but still solid

* Low volumes in half-day trading ahead of 3-day break

HONG KONG, Feb 4 (Reuters) - The Hong Kong stock market edged up in half-day trading on Monday, ahead of the three-day Lunar New Year Holiday, on the back of mildly positive data on the Chinese economy. ** The Hang Seng index closed up 0.2 percent at 27,990.21, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises index fell 0.3 percent. ** Mainland Chinese markets are shut for the week for the Lunar New Year holiday, while the Hong Kong market traded half day, ahead of three days of public holiday to celebrate the festival. ** China’s services sector maintained a solid pace of expansion in January even though growth moderated slightly, a private survey showed on Sunday. ** U.S. jobs growth surged in January, with employers hiring the most workers in 11 months, pointing to underlying strength in the economy despite an uncertain outlook that has left the Federal Reserve wary about more interest rate hikes this year. ** Offshore yuan was down 0.37 percent against the greenback at 6.7815 per dollar, as the global dollar index climbed in Asia morning trade to 95.67. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.1 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei index was up 0.4 percent. ** The sub-index of the Hang Seng tracking energy shares and the IT sector were nearly flat, while the financial sector ended 0.4 percent higher. ** Index-heavy property shares rebounded slightly, edging 0.2 percent up, after they slid last Friday on government data showing the city’s private residential prices slipped for 5 consecutive months. ** Hong Kong International Construction Investment Management Group, a unit of China’s HNA Group, fell as much as 16 pct, after the sale of a property at a loss. ** Tencent-backed Maoyan Entertainment, China’s biggest movie-ticketing platform by sales, fell 2.7 percent in its Hong Kong debut, the latest in a string of weak starts among Chinese tech firms listing in the financial hub. ** Tencent Holdings Ltd, the most traded stock in Hong Kong, edged down 0.1 percent. ** The top gainer on the Hang Seng was AIA Group Ltd, which rose 3.7 percent, while the biggest loser was China Resources Land, which fell 1.7 percent. ** The three biggest H-shares percentage decliners were China Tower Corp Ltd and Sinopharm Group Ltd, both down 1.8 percent, followed by China Telecom Corp Ltd, down by 1.7 percent. ** About 833.05 million Hang Seng index shares were traded. The volume traded in the previous trading session was 1.72 billion. ** The short and one-factor leveraged Hang Seng index, which is designed to replicate the payoff of a short or leveraged portfolio and is linked to the movements of the Hang Seng Index, was lower by 0.2 percent on the day at 4,936.67. (Reporting by Hong Kong Newsroom; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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