March 15, 2017 3:13 pm JST

Hong Kong stocks flat ahead of Fed rate call

HONG KONG (NewsRise) -- Hong Kong shares were little changed in a choppy trading session Wednesday morning before a key U.S. Federal Reserve rate decision, with energy producers weighed down by falling oil prices while property developers inched higher.

The Hang Seng Index slipped less than 0.1% to 23,815.03 by midday, recovering from a near 0.8% slide earlier. CNOOC and PetroChina each fell at least 0.5% after U.S. crude prices declined for a seventh straight session overnight. The benchmark U.S. oil contract was up 1.8%. A gauge of property developers listed in Hong Kong advanced 0.2%, with Wharf Holdings climbing 1.8%.

Cathay Pacific Airways added 0.9% ahead of its earnings announcement. During the break, the airline reported a narrower 2016 net loss of HK$575 million ($74 million) but it shares began to quickly tumble as trading resumed.

Local stocks pared declines in the morning after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told a news conference that Beijing does not want to see a trade war with the U.S., and reiterated its stance that relations between the two countries hinge on adherence to the "One China" policy. Weak risk appetite ahead of the Federal Reserve's near-certain rate increase later Wednesday sparked losses on Wall Street overnight. The Nikkei Asia300 index was up less than 0.1% at 1,141.40.

"A bit of nervousness is expected prior to the Fed outcome," said Louis Tse, director at Hong Kong-based VC Brokerage. "Inflation is picking up and U.S. economic data overall continues to surprise positively. The concern for investors will be the Fed could signal a more aggressive stand for the remainder of the year."

A recent clutch of upbeat Chinese data has helped revive investor confidence in the health of Asia's largest economy. The Shanghai Composite edged 0.1% higher, taking gains for the week so far to 0.9%.

The onshore traded yuan was little changed at 6.9142 against the dollar, hovering close to a two-month low. The dollar index rose 0.4% overnight.

China Petroleum & Chemical (Sinopec) slipped 0.9% in Hong Kong. China will lower retail gasoline and diesel fuel prices by 85 yuan ($12.30) per ton from Wednesday, state media reported.

Cheung Kong Property Holdings, Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings and Power Assets Holdings, all controlled by billionaire Li Ka-shing, received a nod from shareholders on Tuesday to form a consortium to pursue the A$7.4 billion ($5.6 billion) purchase of Australia's Duet Group. Cheung Kong Infrastructure slipped 0.2% and Power Assets edged 0.1% lower midday. Cheung Kong Property added 0.3%. Mainland Chinese developer Agile Group Holdings jumped more than 7% after reporting a 64% jump in net income for last year.

China Life Insurance rose 0.4% after reporting premium income for January and February of 189.9 billion yuan.

Alibaba Pictures jumped 6% to HK$1.41 after saying late Tuesday that it signed a three-year deal with parent Alibaba Group Holding for the long-term co-development of operations including Alibaba Gaming, Alibaba Literature and video streaming service Youku Tudou. Alibaba Group Holding shares slipped 0.8% overnight in the U.S.

ZTE rose 3.9% after it appointed Yin Yimin as its new chairman with immediate effect, replacing Zhao Xianming. The leadership change comes days after the networking equipment-maker pled guilty to violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea and agree to pay almost $900 million in penalties.

Air China advanced 3.7% after saying the number of passengers carried in February rose 2.8% to almost 8 million. China Southern Airlines rose 5% after passenger traffic rose 6.8% last month.

--V. Phani Kumar and Nimesh Vora

Asia300

CNOOC Ltd.

Hong Kong

Market(Ticker): HKG(883)
Sector:
Industry:
Energy Minerals
Oil & Gas Production
Market cap(USD): 52,277.15M
Shares: 44,647.45M
Asia300

PetroChina Co., Ltd.

China

Market(Ticker): HKG(857)
Sector:
Industry:
Energy Minerals
Integrated Oil
Market cap(USD): 196,523.15M
Shares: 183,020.98M
Asia300

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd.

Hong Kong

Market(Ticker): HKG(293)
Sector:
Industry:
Transportation
Airlines
Market cap(USD): 6,151.55M
Shares: 3,933.84M
Asia300

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp.

China

Market(Ticker): HKG(386)
Sector:
Industry:
Energy Minerals
Integrated Oil
Market cap(USD): 103,465.43M
Shares: 121,071.20M
Asia300

Cheung Kong Property Holdings Ltd.

Hong Kong

Market(Ticker): HKG(1113)
Sector:
Industry:
Finance
Real Estate Development
Market cap(USD): 27,467.35M
Shares: 3,733.72M
Asia300

China Life Insurance Co. Ltd.

China

Market(Ticker): HKG(2628)
Sector:
Industry:
Finance
Life/Health Insurance
Market cap(USD): 106,835.94M
Shares: 28,264.70M
Asia300

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

China

Market(Ticker): NYS(BABA)
Sector:
Industry:
Retail Trade
Internet Retail
Market cap(USD): 298,449.53M
Shares: 2,430.17M
Asia300

ZTE Corp.

China

Market(Ticker): HKG(763)
Sector:
Industry:
Electronic Technology
Telecommunications Equipment
Market cap(USD): 10,928.85M
Shares: 4,185.89M
Asia300

Air China Ltd.

China

Market(Ticker): HKG(753)
Sector:
Industry:
Transportation
Airlines
Market cap(USD): 17,662.10M
Shares: 14,524.81M

Get Insights on Asia In Your Inbox

To read the full story, Subscribe or Log in

Get your first month for $0.99

Redeemable only through the Subscribe button below

Once subscribed, you can…

  • Read all stories with unlimited access (5 articles per month without subscription)
  • Use our smartphone and tablet apps

To read the full story, Subscribe or Log in

3 months for $9
SUBSCRIBE TODAY

Take advantage of this limited offer.
Subscribe now to get unlimited access to all articles.

To read the full story, Update your account

We could not renew your subscription.
You need to update your payment information.

To read the full story, Subscribe or Log in

Once subscribed, you can…

  • Read all stories with unlimited access (5 articles per month without subscription)
  • Use our smartphone and tablet apps

To read the full story, Subscribe or Log in

3 months for $9
SUBSCRIBE TODAY

Take advantage of this limited offer.
Subscribe now to get unlimited access to all articles.

To read the full story, Update your account

We could not renew your subscription.
You need to update your payment information.