March 7, 2016 / 8:24 AM / 24 days ago

HK's benchmark index edges up on China stimulus hopes

Sept 24 (Reuters) - ** Hong Kong’s benchmark stock index ended higher on Tuesday as fresh stimulus hopes in China offset trade war uncertainty and slowdown concerns due to ongoing protests in the island city. ** The Hang Seng index gained 0.2% to 26,281, but the China Enterprises Index dipped 0.2% to 10,271.03.

** Market mood was stable as policymakers in Beijing projected the prospects of more fiscal stimulus. China will step up efforts to stabilise economic growth, Ning Jizhe, a vice head of the state planner, said during a press conference on Tuesday.

** But risk appetite continued to be curbed by uncertainties around the Sino-U.S. trade talks.

** Cancellation of a planned trip by Chinese officials to U.S. farming regions after trade talks last week was originally interpreted as an ominous sign in the negotiations, but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the trip was delayed at the administration’s request to avoid confusion over the talks.

** Meanwhile, in a sign of Beijing’s good will ahead of senior-level negotiations in early October, Chinese importers bought about 10 boatloads of U.S. soybeans on Monday.

** Hong Kong continues to suffer from the three-month long political crisis that saw increasingly violent protests, which threaten to plunge the city into economic recession. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday the city’s police force, which has been accused of beating activists and using excessive force during protests, is under extreme pressure and acknowledged it will be a “long road” towards healing rifts.

** Healthcare, telecommunications and utility stocks rose, but industrials and consumer plays fell (Reporting by the Shanghai Newsroom)

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