China stock market

Hong Kong stocks end higher for 4th straight day before key US, China economic data

US inflation and retail sales figures for February due overnight, while China’s expected to release latest industrial production, retail sales and fixed-asset investment stats for January and February on Wednesday

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 March, 2018, 9:20am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 March, 2018, 6:35pm

Hong Kong stocks closed slightly higher on Tuesday in choppy trading, ahead of the release of key economic data from the US and mainland China that is expected to provide market direction.

The Hang Seng Index fluctuated within a narrow range of 248 points, moving between small gains and losses. The index closed up 7.52 points, or less by 0.1 per cent, at 31,601.45, reflecting its fourth day of gains.

On the previous day, the benchmark closed at its highest level in five weeks after a US Labour Department report indicated strength in the world’s largest economy, without suggesting any inflation concerns.

Hong Kong’s main board turnover decreased about 8 per cent to HK$110.2 billion (US$14.05 billion). The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, known as the H-shares index, rose 0.4 per cent to 12,746.78.

“The sentiment has turned a bit cautious now after both the Chinese and overseas markets had decent rebounds,” said Wu Kan, a fund manager at Shanshan Finance in Shanghai.

“The market’s biggest concern is US inflation. If it comes out with a high number, that’ll incur some tightening action.”

The market’s biggest concern is US inflation. If it comes out with a high number, that’ll incur some tightening action
Wu Kan, a fund manager at Shanshan Finance in Shanghai

US Inflation and retail sales figures for February are due out the during the business day Tuesday, which should offer clues about the direction of interest rates.

On Wednesday, China is expected to release industrial production, retail sales and fixed-asset investment statistics for January and February.

On mainland Chinese markets, the Shanghai Composite dropped 0.5 per cent to end at 3,310.24. The large-cap CSI300 fell 0.9 per cent to 4,091.25. The Shenzhen Composite Index and the ChiNext Price Index lost 0.7 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively to 1,895.31 and 1,872.68.

Agricultural Bank of China’s Hong Kong-listed shares surged 5.4 per cent to close at HK$4.71. Its Shanghai-traded stock also climbed 2.5 per cent to 4.13 yuan.

The gains came after the company announced late Monday a plan to raise as much as 100 billion yuan via private placement, which could be the nation’s bigger ever private stock deal by value. The proceeds will be used to shore up capital, it said.

In a separate statement, Agricultural Bank of China revealed its full-year financial results, with its net profit up 4.9 per cent year on year to 193 billion yuan.

Still, Hong Kong-listed telecom service operators recorded considerable losses, dragging on the market. China Mobile fell 1.2 per cent to HK$71.70. Smaller rivals China Unicom and China Telecom dropped 1.7 per cent and 1.4 per cent to HK$9.64 and HK$3.40 respectively.

HNA Group unit Hong Kong International Construction Investment Management Group jumped 5 per cent to HK$2.32, after agreeing to sell a site at the Kai Tak area to Wheelock & Co for HK$6.36 billion.

Meanwhile, Shanghai-listed China Pacific Insurance slid 2.8 per cent to 38.88 yuan and Ping An Insurance Group dropped 2.4 per cent to 69.45 yuan after the State Council, the country’s cabinet, proposed to the ongoing National People’s Congress plans to merge the two regulators overseeing the insurance and banking industries.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei Average ended up 0.7 per cent at 21,968.1, and South Korea’s Kospi finished higher by 0.4 per cent at 2,494.49.