Developers help Hong Kong shares end week flat amid Korea woes
HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares ended little changed in a holiday-shortened week, drawing support from property stocks while geopolitical worries over North Korea and Syria occupied investor minds.
The Hang Seng Index barely budged from its close last Friday, as it declined 0.1% to 24,283.06 on Thursday. A gauge of real estate companies listed in Hong Kong climbed to a six-month high amid confidence fresh government measures to cool property prices may not dent speculative demand. Cheung Kong Property Holdings and New World Development increased at least 2.6% in the last four days, shrugging off a higher stamp duty on first-time homebuyers purchasing more than one property at a time. The two stocks were up 0.9% or more on Thursday.
Kunlun Energy paced declines with a 6.1% weekly drop after last week's 10% rally. Geely Automobile Holdings shed 3.8% this week, paring year-to-date gains to 43%.
Global investor sentiment has been dominated this week by tensions over North Korea after the U.S. navy moved a strike group toward the western Pacific, prompting a warning of "catastrophic consequences" from Pyongyang. U.S. President Donald Trump on Twitter vowed to solve the North Korea "problem" with or without China's help.
The Hang Seng Index remains among Asia's best performing benchmarks this year, with a gain of more than 10%.
"While there has been a sharp increase in geopolitical risks, the index has not broken out of its recent trading range and that is a bit of a comfort," said Louis Tse, asset management director at VC Brokerage. "I think if we don't see any further rise in tensions, the markets will climb higher."
The Nikkei Asia300 Index was last up 0.1% as regional sentiment improved after Trump told the Wall Street Journal in an interview that he prefers low interest rates. He also said his administration will not label China a currency manipulator.
The Shanghai Composite edged 0.1% higher Thursday, but is down 0.3% for the week so far. The yuan rose 0.1% to 6.8850 against the dollar in onshore trade. Data released Thursday showed China's March trade surplus was wider than expected at $23.93 billion as exports rose 16.4%. The world's second-largest economy had reported a deficit last month.
Leshi Internet Information & Technology slumped 5.9% in Shenzhen this week after its parent LeEco abandoned the acquisition of U.S. television-maker Vizio due to regulatory headwinds. Leshi rose 0.1% Thursday.
BOE Technology Group added 1.3% in Shenzhen, taking its advance since last Friday to 3%, after saying it expects first-quarter net profit to rise over 2000%.
Chow Tai Fook Jewellery rose 5.8% Thursday following a 4% increase in same-store sales in Hong Kong and Macau, and a 12% jump in mainland markets.
Prada fell 2.9% Thursday, chalking its worst decline in over a month after reporting a 16% decline in net income for the year ended Jan. 31.
Zhaojin Mining Industry was up 4% since last Friday, as increased global risk aversion lifted gold prices to five-month highs. The miner's shares were up 1.7% Thursday.
--V. Phani Kumar and Nimesh Vora
--Nikkei Markets is a real-time financial news service for South East Asia's markets published by Nikkei NewsRise Asia Pte Ltd, a Nikkei and NewsRise joint venture company. Nikkei Markets provides wide companies coverage in the region, including the Nikkei's Asia300 companies.
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