May 9, 2019 / 8:55 AM / a year ago

Hong Kong shares end at 2-month low on tariff hike fears

* Hang Seng index ends down 2.39 pct

* China Enterprises index HSCE falls 2.27 pct

* HSI financial sector sub-index 2.9 pct lower

* Property sector down 2.1 pct

May 9 (Reuters) - Shares in Hong Kong ended sharply lower on Thursday as investors worried over whether Chinese and U.S. trade negotiators will be able to salvage a trade deal before a looming deadline for fresh U.S. tariff hikes on Chinese goods.

** At the close of trade, the Hang Seng index was down 692.13 points or 2.39 percent at 28,311.07, its lowest close since March 8. The drop brought losses for the index to 5.9 percent for the week so far. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index fell 2.27 percent to 10,845.06. ** Trading volumes surged, with about 3.00 billion Hang Seng index shares traded, roughly 176.8 percent of the market’s 30-day moving average of 1.70 billion shares a day. ** U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday China “broke the deal” it had reached in trade talks with the United States, and vowed not to back down on imposing new tariffs on Chinese imports unless Beijing “stops cheating our workers.” ** The U.S. Trade Representative’s office announced that tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods would increase to 25 percent from 10 percent at 12:01 a.m. (0401) GMT on Friday, right in the middle of two days of meetings between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and Trump’s top trade officials in Washington. ** China’s commerce ministry said Thursday that China is fully prepared to defend its interests in its trade war with the United States, but hopes Washington can resolve problems through dialogue instead of unilateral steps. ** “The markets are still very much on the fence whether this week’s trade developments are just hardball tactic from Trump or the start of an authentic threat to the global growth narrative,” Stephen Innes, head of trading and market strategy at SPI Asset Management, said in a note. ** “The confusing news flow is not helping the matter either as muddled signals from Washington or Beijing especially with time running out on China, suggests investors could very well be facing down the barrel of increased tariffs,” Innes said. ** The sub-index of the Hang Seng tracking energy shares dipped 1.4 percent, while the IT sector dipped 2.3 percent, the financial sector ended 2.87 percent lower and the property sector dipped 2.07 percent. ** The top gainer on the Hang Seng was Hengan International Group Company Ltd, which gained 0.44 percent, while the biggest loser was Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd, which fell 5.99 percent. ** China’s main Shanghai Composite index closed down 1.48 percent at 2,850.95, while the blue-chip CSI300 index ended down 1.85 percent. Both indexes ended at their lowest closing levels since Feb. 22. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 1.83 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 0.93 percent. ** The yuan was quoted at 6.8185 per U.S. dollar at 08:26 GMT, 0.52 percent weaker than the previous close of 6.7831. The offshore yuan weakened 0.62 percent to 6.8503 per dollar. ** The top gainers among H-shares were Guangdong Investment Ltd up 2.55 percent, followed by China Telecom Corp Ltd , gaining 1.76 percent and CRRC Corp Ltd, up by 0.6 percent. ** The three biggest H-shares percentage decliners were China Tower Corp Ltd, which was down 5.80 percent, Huatai Securities Co Ltd, which fell 4.9 percent and China Merchants Bank Co Ltd, down by 4.7 percent. (Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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