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Hang Seng Index

Hong Kong stocks complete longest monthly winning streak in a decade

Hang Seng Index drops on Thursday, trimming August’s gains, as major Chinese banks retreat

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 August, 2017, 9:17am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 August, 2017, 10:24pm

Hong Kong’s stocks retreated on Thursday, trimming a monthly gain, as declines in banking stocks outweighed the strength of a gauge indicating China’s manufacturing expanded for a 13th straight month.

The Hang Seng Index dropped 0.4 per cent, or 124.31 points, to 27,970.30 at the close. The benchmark had finished Wednesday above 28,000 for the first time since 2015. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, or the H-share gauge, fell 0.7 per cent.

Traders sold shares in China’s biggest state-owned banks including Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China Construction Bank, which have advanced at least 15 per cent this year, after they released first-half results last night. Even after Thursday’s decline, the city’s benchmark still rose 2.4 per cent in August, posting gains every month since the start of the year.

People are taking profit in Chinese banks and parking it back into property stocks
Alex Wong, director, Ample Finance Group

The streak of eight monthly advances is the longest since October 2007. The Hang Seng Index is up 27 per cent this year, as lower valuations lure mainland investors who access the city’s equities via exchange link schemes.

“People are taking profit in Chinese banks and parking it back into property stocks,” said Alex Wong Kwok-ying, director at Ample Finance Group. “There is no damage to overall sentiment and the market should resume rising in the next day or so.”

China’s official purchase managers’ index for the manufacturing industry rose to 51.7 in August, the statics bureau said on Wednesday. That was higher than the estimate of 51.3 in a Bloomberg survey and the reading of 51.4 a month earlier. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, and below means contraction.

ICBC retreated 2.7 per cent to HK$5.86, Construction Bank sank 2.3 per cent to HK$6.86 and Bank of China slipped 0.2 per cent to HK$4.12. The nation’s three biggest state-owned lenders all reported higher profits for the first six months, with growth rates ranging from 1.9 per cent to 11 per cent. The three stocks accounted for three quarters of the decline on the Hang Seng Index on Thursday.

Natural gas distributors climbed after China cut prices for non-residential users, raising optimism that lower prices will stoke demand for the fuel. Kunlun Energy jumped 5.7 per cent to HK$7.58 and China Resources Gas Group added 2.2 per cent to HK$27.60. Gas prices will fall by 0.1 yuan a cubic meter from September 1, the National Development and Reform Commission said on Wednesday.

Mengniu Dairy, China’s second largest dairy company, surged 5.4 per cent to HK$18.28, its highest since July 2015, after reporting that net profit rose 4.7 per cent to 1.128 billion yuan (US$170.85 million) for the six months ended June 30.

The mainland’s Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.1 per cent, or 2.82 points, to 3,360.81, recording a 2.7 per cent gain for the month. The CSI 300 dropped 0.3 per cent on Thursday while the ChiNext gauge of smaller firms gained 0.6 per cent.

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