Hong Kong stocks ended flat on Thursday, dragged down by energy counters and property developers, as investors sat on their hands, with activity sharply lower because of China’s Golden Week holidays.
“The market still lacks direction because of holidays in China," said Castor Pang, head of research at Core Pacific-Yamaichi. “The market may continue to trade in a narrow range on Friday in the absence of clues from China.”
The benchmark Hang Seng Index added 19.67 points, or 0.09 per cent, to finish at 20,907.95. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index gained 20.31 points, or 0.21 per cent, to end at 9,848.53.
Losses in energy counters were offset by financial players, led by heavyweight HSBC (0005.HK ). The stock gained 1.79 per cent to finish at HK$73.85, after Europe's biggest bank said its core tier 1 ratio as of 30 June 2012 was 11.3 per cent compared with the 9 per cent level recommended by by the EBA in its December 2011 report.
Swire Properties (1972.HK ) posted its biggest fall since August 14 after its biggest shareholder John Swire & Sons Ltd. said it is selling its entire directly held stake in the firm. The stock fell 2.92 per cent to finish at HK$23.25.
John Swire is offering 217 million shares at HK$22.51 each, or 6 per cent less than Wednesday’s closing price of HK$23.95, according to a statement to the Hong Kong Exchange this morning.
“The market was surprised by the move as everyone thought they were going to sell the stock in November,” said Silvia Wong, an analyst with UOB-KAY Hian. “But the removal of the (sale) concern will act as a positive factor to the stock in the next few months.”
Energy players lost ground as crude prices were trading near a two-month low. US crude for November delivery was at US$88.29 a barrel, up 15 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 3:30 p.m. Hong Kong time, after settling at US$88.14 on Wednesday, its lowest level since Aug.2.
Air China (0753.HK ) led carriers higher, gaining 4.11 per cent to close at HK$5.07, after a report said tourism increased during the Golden Week national holidays. China Eastern Airlines (0670.HK ) added 3.81 per cent to close at HK$2.45.
According to figures from 119 tourist sites tracked by the National Holiday Office, 5.76 million visitors were out and about by Tuesday, up 29 percent year-on-year. This gauge rose 9 per cent last year, and 6.5 per cent the year before.
SASA International (0178.HK ) gained 1.76 per cent to finish at HK$5.21, after Simon Kwok Siu-ming, chairman of Sa Sa International, said on Wednesday that sales figures for the first few days of Golden Week will show double-digit year-on-year growth.