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Equities

Hong Kong shares slip further amid doubts over US-China trade talks

Ping An Good Doctor gets cold reception on trading debut

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares set course for a third day of losses on Friday, as investors stayed on the sidelines during the morning session amid fading hopes for a positive outcome from ongoing U.S.-China trade talks.

The Hang Seng Index had fallen 0.4% to 30,208.41 by noon. Ping An Insurance Group dropped 0.7%. Shares of unit Ping An Health & Technology, also known as Ping An Good Doctor, edged 1.4% higher from their initial public offering price to HK$55.55 in their market debut. The health care app operator raised $1.12 billion in gross proceeds from its offering.

AIA Group slid 1.2% amid broad market losses despite reporting a 26% increase in the value of its new business in the first quarter at actual exchange rates. London-headquartered HSBC Holdings was down 0.8% ahead of its first-quarter results announcement. During the lunch break, the lender reported a 4% decrease in March quarter profit before tax to $4.76 billion and said it would start buying back up to $2 billion of its shares.

Markets are waiting to hear the outcome of talks in Beijing involving a delegation from Washington led by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Sentiment remains cautious as market participants appear worried that the talks will not result in a significant easing of U.S.-China tensions.

Steven Leung, executive director at UOB Kay Hian (Hong Kong), said the trade war issue will continue to bother the market for "a while." If emerging officials do not detail progress or next steps on trade between the world's largest economies, he said that "means that two countries have not reached some sort of agreement during the meetings. And the market is worried about a stalemate."

Losses in Asia followed overnight weakness on Wall Street where the S&P 500 Index and the Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.2% each amid downbeat corporate earnings, including from insurer American International Group, the former parent of AIA. The Nikkei Asia300 Index was down 0.4% Friday.

In the mainland, the Shanghai Composite edged 0.1% lower, while its Shenzhen counterpart added 0.1%.

Russian aluminum maker United Company Rusal fell 2.2% in Hong Kong. The company on Friday said Euronext Paris will delist its global depositary receipts on May 7. The stock shed 56.6% of its value in Hong Kong in April after the U.S. imposed sanctions on Russian oligarchs including Oleg Deripaska, Rusal's controlling shareholder.

Branding China Group climbed 5.4% after saying Lo Ken Bon, already an executive director, would be its new chief executive. The brand communication services provider said Fan Youyuan, Patrick Zheng, Huang Wei and Song Yijun had resigned as executive directors and that Fang Bin had resigned as chairman but would remain an executive director.

Property developer Times China Holdings advanced 1.4% following an 80% jump in contracted sales for April to 4.95 billion yuan ($780 million). Central China Real Estate edged 0.6% higher following a 141.8% jump in April contracted sales while Beijing Capital Land fell 1.7% despite reporting a 23.8% increase in contracted sales for April to 2.5 billion yuan.

Battery-products maker FDG Electric Vehicles slid 8.6% after saying it expects to report that its loss for the year ended March 31 more than doubled from a year before.

Wireless communication antenna-maker MOBI Development climbed 6.2% after saying it has received "stable customer orders recently." Production volumes for antenna system products increased 46% in April, it said in a statement on Friday.

-- Benny Kung

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