CHINA MARKETS
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China Stock Turmoil 2015

Hong Kong stocks slide on geopolitical worries but China index led higher by robotics and tech shares

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng ends 0.4 per cent lower while Shanghai Composite rises 0.9 per cent

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 November, 2015, 9:14am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 November, 2015, 7:26pm

Hong Kong stocks dropped on Wednesday, extending a three-day losing streak, as mounting geopolitical tensions weighed on the markets amid renewed concerns of conflict in the Middle East a day after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near Syria’s border.

Mainland Chinese markets notched up gains, with the advance led by intelligent-machine stocks after China’s top leaders pledged their support for the robotics industry.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.4 per cent to 22,498.00 and the Hang Seng China Enterprises index dropped 0.3 per cent to 10,127.87.

Turnover exceeded HK$65 billion, much higher that Tuesday’s HK$57 billion.

On mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.9 per cent to 3,647.93, its highest close in two weeks. The large-cap CSI also rose 0.7 per cent to 3,781.61.

The tech-heavy Shenzhen Composite Index climbed 1.9 per cent to 2,343.62. The ChiNext Index, a gauge heavily weighted towards start-ups, jumped 2.9 per cent to 2,897.57, its highest since late July.

Turnover in Shanghai rose to 381 billion yuan from 329 billion yuan the previous day.

In the currency market, the offshore yuan strengthened 0.07 per cent to 6.4217 to the US dollar while onshore yuan gained 0.01 per cent to 6.3877. The People’s Bank of China on Wednesday set the yuan reference rate at 6.3877 against the US dollar, 11 basis points stronger than the previous level.

The International Monetary Fund’s executive board is scheduled to vote on November 30 on the yuan’s inclusion in its Special Drawing Rights basket of reserves.

Most Asian markets settled lower on Wednesday amid concerns of escalating tensions between Russia and Nato-member Turkey following the downing of a jet fighter on Tuesday.

Japan’s Nikkei Average ended down 0.4 per cent, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.6 per cent lower, and South Korea’s Kospi inched down 0.1 per cent.

“While the dispute between Turkey and Russia is unlikely to escalate into a ‘hot’ conflict, it does underline the unresolved tensions over how to put an end to the unrest in Syria and Iraq,” said Angus Nicholson, an analyst for IG Group. “This uncertainty around a further escalation of the conflict in the Middle East has hung heavily on Asian markets with (almost) all indices in the region seeing red.”

In Hong Kong, Power Assets Holdings and Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings (CKI), both owned by Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, fell 2.9 per cent and 0.4 per cent respectively, after minority shareholders of Power Assets rejected a buyout proposal from CKI.

Airline stocks suffered sharp losses as geopolitical risks weighed. China Eastern Airlines slid 4.2 per cent to HK$4.31, and Cathay Pacific skidded 1.9 per cent to HK$14.58.

Oil stocks bucked the trend and recorded strong gains, after crude futures jumped on Tuesday on concerns that tension in the Middle East may disrupt oil output in the region. CNOOC rallied 3.3 per cent to HK$8.81.

On the mainland, tech stocks rallied, with intelligent-machine shares among the top gainers, sparked by a state media report that China is drawing up a national standard to test and evaluate robotic products. Chinese leaders speaking in Beijing at the World Robot Conference said that they would promote tech innovation and entrepreneurship to create the world’s largest robotics market.

Shenji Group Kunming Machine Tool surged by its daily 10 per cent limit to 17.02 yuan. Zhejiang Shuanghuan Driveline jumped 3.7 per cent to 31.1 yuan, Sunward Intelligent Equipment climbed 3.5 per cent to 11.99 yuan, and Nanjing Estun Automation rose 1 per cent to 77.77 yuan.