New Year trade off to shaky beginning

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 January, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 January, 2001, 12:00am

Hong Kong's stock market saw a wobbly start to the New Year, with the Hang Seng Index falling 1.49 per cent to 14,869.94 points in dismal trade.

A mere HK$3.17 billion changed hands, the quietest trading day since February 1999. 'That's not a good start. But to be fair, a lot of people are still away [on holiday],' said Credit Suisse First Boston head of sales trading Jonathan Gurnsey.

Analysts blamed Friday's falls on the Nasdaq market in the US for yesterday's caution in the SAR. However, the Nasdaq fallout did not stop investors from splashing out on shares in the technology-heavy markets of Taiwan and South Korea.

Taiwan's weighted index leapt 4.14 per cent to 4,935.28 while Korea's composite index rose 3.23 per cent to 520.95, with technology and banking shares leading gains in both markets.

In Taiwan, the opening of direct shipping links between outlying islands and China also stirred optimism over improved cross-strait relations. In contrast, shares plunged more than 3 per cent in the Philippines and the peso fell to a record low of 52 against the dollar as trading resumed after weekend bombings in Manila.

Market conditions have led to growing expectations that the US Federal Reserve may cut interest rates even before its next scheduled meeting on January 30.

Markets, Page 7