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Equities

Hong Kong shares fall as trade-war worries dampen risk sentiment

45 of 50 Hang Seng Index members tumble in morning session

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares on Monday extended losses from last week as investors remained concerned about the possibility of a global trade war after U.S. President Donald Trump indicated that he will impose import tariffs on certain metals.

The Hang Seng Index had slid 1.1% to 30,238.71 by the midday break after losing 2.2% last week. Forty-five of the gauge's 50 constituents were trading lower by noon. China Construction Bank (CCB) and Ping An Insurance Group fell 1.9% and 1.4%, respectively, while London-headquartered bank HSBC Holdings dropped 1%.

Wharf Real Estate Investment added 0.6% ahead of the release of its 2017 results. During the break, the company, a spin-off from Wheelock's Wharf Holdings unit, reported a 73% jump in full-year profit and a 24% increase in revenue. Wharf Holdings, which was excluded from the Hang Seng Index as of Monday, lost 2.1%.

Hong Kong's main benchmark lost 1.5% on Friday after Trump on Thursday proposed import tariffs on steel and aluminum, raising concerns of a trade war with China. The news further rattled investor sentiment that was already under pressure amid concerns of a faster-than-expected pace of interest rate increases in the U.S. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.6% on Friday. On Monday, it was down 0.2% by noon, while its Shenzhen counterpart was up 0.1%. The onshore-traded yuan added 0.2% against the U.S. dollar to reach 6.3310.

"It is said among the market that the mainland government is trying to stabilize the market. There are rumors that investors were not allowed to sell," said Mark Ng, executive director of China Demeter Financial Investment in Hong Kong. "The rumors on the sales prohibition came out when Trump threatened to add (import tariffs)."

The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of large mainland companies listed in Hong Kong was down 0.9% by midday after a 1.8% drop on Friday.

Shimao Property Holdings rose 2.2% in Hong Kong after saying contracted sales for February rose 36% to 7.1 billion yuan ($1.12 billion).

Sun Art Retail Group tumbled 4.3%, trimming gains for the year to 24.7%. On Sunday, the hypermarket operator, an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding, reported an 8.6% increase in 2017 net profit to 2.79 billion yuan. Revenue for the year rose 1.9% to 102.3 billion, even as same-store sales fell 1%.

Property management services provider A-Living Services slid 2% after saying the joint global coordinators for its initial public offering have not exercised an over-allotment option, which lapsed on Sunday.

New Focus Auto Tech Holdings climbed 4.4% after the automobile accessory maker said its unit agreed to acquire car dealership operator Inner Mongolia Chuangying Automobile for 660 million yuan.

-- Carrie Chen

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