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Hong Kong stocks close 0.16% lower

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Hong Kong shares ended 0.16 percent lower Monday on last-minute profit-taking after the index spent most of the day in positive territory following a Wall Street rally.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index, which was sitting around 21-month highs mid-session, fell 36.83 points to 23,685.01 on turnover of HK$128.16 billion ($16.53 billion).

US traders sent the Dow to a more than five-year high Friday on the back of the latest jobs data.

The labour department report showed employers added 157,000 jobs in January, fewer than expected, and the jobless rate inched up to 7.9 percent.

However, revised data for all of 2012 showed net job growth at an average of 181,000 a month, up from a prior estimate of 153,000.

The Dow rallied 1.08 percent to 14,009.79, above 14,000 points for the first time since October 2007. The index is just shy of the record high 14,164.53 seen on October 9, 2007.

The broad-based S&P 500 added 1.01 percent and the Nasdaq jumped 1.18 percent.

Barclays said in a note that the jobs data, plus figures showing US manufacturing was growing further "signal the US economy has maintained its momentum, but not so much as to alter our view that the Fed will remain accommodative".

Ping An hit an 18-month high of HK$72.70 in the morning after the completion of HSBC's stake US$9.39 billion disposal to Thai conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group. But it was hit by profit-taking, finishing down 2.8 percent at HK$68.90.

Trading in the firm accounted for HK$61.37 billion of the total turnover. HSBC fell 0.2 percent to HK$87.85.

Hong Kong property stocks rebounded after diving last week. New World Development rose 2.3 percent to HK$14.42 and Henderson Land closed up 0.5 percent at HK$55.65.

However Chinese shares closed up 0.38 percent. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 9.13 points to 2,428.15 on turnover of 152.5 billion yuan ($24.5 billion).

"Coal and nonferrous metals stocks led the rise mainly because they were laggards in the run-up since December, but overall gains may be limited due to profit taking pressure," Haitong Securities analyst Zhang Qi told AFP.

Datong Coal Industry rose 9.97 percent to 10.26 yuan, Yanzhou Coal Mining jumped 6.67 percent to 19.66 yuan and Anyuan Coal Industry gained 5.33 percent to 13.44 yuan.

Chihong Zinc & Germanium advanced 6.49 percent to 16.91 yuan and aluminium producer Chalco rose 2.53 percent to 5.27 yuan.

Ping An Insurance closed up 1.42 percent to 51.49 yuan after China's insurance regulator said Friday it had approved British bank HSBC's sale of its stake in the insurance giant to a Thai conglomerate for $9.4 billion.

-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this story --

dan/pj

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130204/hong-kong-stocks-close-016-lower-0