March 12, 2020 / 8:43 AM / 21 days ago

Hong Kong stocks close at near 3-yr low as global pandemic fears deepen

* HK->Shanghai Connect daily quota used -10.6%, Shanghai->HK daily quota used 21.8%

* HSI -3.7%, HSCE -3.4%, CSI300 -1.9%

* FTSE China A50 -1.6%

Hong Kong/SHANGHAI, March 12 (Reuters) - Hong Kong stocks on Thursday plunged to close at a near three-year low, tracking a global selloff as worries deepened over the economic impact of the coronavirus after the U.S. suspended travel from Europe.

** The Hang Seng index fell 3.7%, to 24,309.07, its lowest close since April 2017, while the China Enterprises Index lost 3.4% to 9,725.72.

** U.S. President Donald Trump announced a temporary ban on travel to Europe, excluding the United Kingdom, to contain the spread of the virus that has now been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

** Trump announced other steps to support U.S. businesses and promote growth but some investors were unconvinced the global economy can quickly recover as worries grow that the number of infections could rapidly snowball globally.

** “Markets are very nervous as this is a real black swan event. We are potentially looking at a global recession,” said Carlos Casanova, Asia Pacific economist at Coface.

** Losses on the island were steeper than their mainland peers which fell less than 2%.

** “Hong Kong will always be affected by the U.S. market, especially with such big movements,” said Steven Leung, executive director for institutional sales at UOB Kay Hian. “The A-share market is providing downside protection for Hong Kong.”

** Though mainland investors were not deterred, purchasing about 13 billion yuan ($1.86 billion) worth of Hong Kong equities via the Stock Connect on the day as they hunted for bargains.

** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 4.6%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 4.41%.

** The yuan was quoted at 6.9856 per U.S. dollar at 08:32 GMT, 0.36% weaker than the previous close of 6.9603.

$1 = 6.9826 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Reporting by Noah Sin, Alun John and Luoyan Liu; editing by Jason Neely

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