Hong Kong stocks see biggest losses since Brexit; HSBC only blue chip to gain

Hang Seng Index falls to two-week low of 21,739.12, down 1.76 per cent

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 August, 2016, 9:28am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 August, 2016, 10:39pm

Hong Kong witnessed its sharpest intraday drop since June 24 — when Britons voted to leave the European Union — on Wednesday, weighed down by overseas market corrections due to an oil price slump and poor interim earnings.

The Hang Seng Index fell to a two-week low of 21,739.12, down 1.76 per cent or 390.02 points.

The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index lost 1.65 per cent or 150.87 points to 8,978.33.

Trading turnover on the main board picked up 10.4 per cent from a day earlier to HK$70 billion.

Oil, insurance and banking sectors dragged down the benchmark, while gold-related stocks enjoyed mild gains.

HSBC Holdings, which reported a 14 per cent drop in interim pretax profit, was the only blue chip to see its shares rise after its unexpected US$2.5 billion share buy-back plan boosted investor confidence. Its shares rose 1.57 per cent to HK$51.6.

Oil stocks took heavy punishment as the WTI Crude Oil in New York and Brent Crude in London fell below the US$40 threshold overnight.

CNOOC Limited shares dropped 4.43 per cent to HK$8.85, the lowest level in almost three months.

China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation shares fell 1.61 per cent to HK$5.5, with PetroChina losing 1.88 per cent to HK$5.21.

Among high-yield payers, Link Real Estate Investment Trust shares shed 2.73 per cent to HK$55.25, approaching its one-month low. Sun Hung Kai Properties shares lost 4.16 per cent to HK$106.

Mark To, head of research at Wing Fung Financial Group, said the pressure had set in after US stocks had been hit with a series of setbacks, fueled by the oil price fall.

Kenny Wen, a wealth management strategist at Sun Hung Kai Financial, said the Hong Kong property market is facing resistance after remaining at this year’s price peak for almost a month.

“Profit warnings issued by big companies such as China Life Insurance Company and China Unicom also added concern on earnings prospect,” Wen said.

He expects Hong Kong stocks to find support at a level of 21,300, as global capital flow has been shifting from Europe and Japan to Asia, including Hong Kong, partly due to the city’s US dollar pegged currency policy.

In the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.24 per cent or 7.18 points to 2,978.46, with the CSI 300 ended 0.14 per cent higher at 3,193.51.

The Shenzhen Component Index gained 0.3 per cent to 10,281.25, while the Nasdaq-style ChiNext closed 0.23 per cent down to 2,108.31.

Trading turnover in Shanghai remained low at 159.1 billion yuan (HK$186.2 billion), and in Shenzhen it was 222.8 billion yuan.

Despite small gains, the biggest restraint at the moment is insufficient trading volume,

Bank of China International said in a research note.

“The key for the market to extend its gains is the performance of the financial sector, since banks, securities brokers and insurance companies are where long-term capital is being placed,” Bank of China International said.

Additional reporting by Cathy Zhang