Hong Kong shares fall in catch-up after long weekend
HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares fell after a long weekend, as investors caught up with recent losses in mainland markets amid tighter regulatory scrutiny. Lingering geopolitical concerns over North Korea also remained a drag on risk sentiment.
The Hang Seng Index fell 0.9% to 24,039.45 by midday, a more-than-one-month low. A gauge of mainland companies listed in Hong Kong also fell to its lowest in more than a month, shedding over 1%. Banking stocks were among the biggest contributors to the losses by points, with China Construction Bank (CCB) and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) falling more than 1% each. Sino Land shed 2.1% to lead decline in property stocks.
The Shanghai Composite was down 0.1%. The index fell 0.7% on Monday to an over two-week low after the nation's securities regulator called for tougher supervision by stock exchanges amid continued efforts to rein in financial risks. The decline came even as China's first-quarter gross domestic product data and March retail sales and industrial production numbers exceeded expectations.
"The growth numbers were good and a positive surprise. But it had little impact on mainland markets as investors are concerned over Chinese authorities' continued efforts to clamp down on speculation and leverage," said Eugene Law, director at China Galaxy Securities. "Also, the news out of North Korea continues to unnerve investors."
Developments over North Korea remain a focal point for global investors, with Pyongyang's failed missile test over the weekend rattling nerves. During a visit to South Korea as part of a four-nation Asia tour, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence reportedly said Washington wanted North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons and end its missile tests, warning the nation not to "test" President Donald Trump's resolve. Pence's tour comes amid heightened tensions over the communist state as a U.S. navy strike group moves in waters off the Korean peninsula. The Nikkei Asia300 index slipped 0.3% Tuesday.
China's CSI300 Real Estate Index was down 0.4%. Average new home prices in 70 major mainland cities rose 0.6% in March, according to calculations by Reuters based on an official survey, even as authorities continued to roll out measures to contain prices and damp speculative demand.
Tencent Holdings declined 0.5%. On Tuesday, U.S.-listed 58.com, which operates an online marketplace in China, said it will raise $200 million from Tencent to develop its used-goods trading platform Zhuan Zhuan.
Broadcaster i-CABLE Communications, owned by billionaire Peter Woo's Wharf Holdings, requested a trading halt on Tuesday pending a release of "inside information." Wharf, which last month said it will cut off funding to i-CABLE, fell 2.2%.
Alibaba Group Holdings' affiliate Ant Financial on Monday raised its bid for Nasdaq-listed MoneyGram International to $18 per share from $13.25 per share as it seeks to ward off a rival offer from Euronet Worldwide. Alibaba rose 1.4% in U.S. trading on Monday, in line with a broader market rally. MoneyGram shares soared nearly 8% to $17.79 overnight.
Yingde Gases Group, resuming trading following a more than two-week trading halt, was 0.7% lower after falling as much as 10% earlier. The company reported a 142.6 million ($20.8 million) net loss for 2016 on late Thursday.
ZTE edged 0.1% higher following a 27.8% increase in first-quarter net profit. The telecom-equipment maker also said it and a unit will invest 1.3 billion yuan to set up an industry fund.
Shenzhen-listed Leshi Internet Information & Technology, a unit of Chinese technology conglomerate LeEco, requested a trading halt on late Monday pending an announcement related to asset restructuring.
Shoe-retailer Belle International Holdings also requested a trading halt in Hong Kong on Tuesday.
China Shenhua Energy added 0.1%. Late Tuesday, the energy producer reported a 13.8% decrease in coal sales volume for March, while commercial coal output rose 11.3% last month.
-- 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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