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Equities

Hong Kong shares slip on renewed trade war concerns

Insurers, Tencent fall; Chinese banks rise amid hopes for relief on provisions

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares edged lower on Wednesday after a choppy morning session, as concern over the possibility of a global trade war resurfaced after U.S. President Donald Trump's top economic adviser resigned amid his reported opposition to a proposed import tariff plan.

The Hang Seng Index had slipped 0.4% to 30,403.04 by the noon break after changing direction at least nine times. Insurers AIA Group and Ping An Insurance Group lost 1.9% and 1.3%, respectively, leading losses on the index, while heavyweight Tencent Holdings gave up 0.7%.

Mainland lenders extended gains on Wednesday, with China Construction Bank (CCB) rising 1.5% and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) adding 0.7%. China's regulators were moving to ease lenders' provisions toward bad loans, Reuters and Chinese publication Caixin reported earlier this week. Geely Automobile Holdings climbed 1.2% after reporting a 24% increase in February sales volume to 110,243 units.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index edged 0.2% lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were down more than 370 points by midday in Asia, after U.S. National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn resigned on Tuesday. His exit follows Trump's recently announced plans to impose import tariffs on steel and aluminum, which have raised concerns about a trade war between the U.S. and its major trading partners, including China.

The Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.1%, on course for a third consecutive gain. The onshore-traded yuan slid 0.3% against the U.S. dollar to 6.3262.

"It is hard to say what the market sentiment is like currently, due to concerns over the impact from the U.S. tariffs and mainland control," said Ronald Wan, chief executive at Partners Capital International. "But overall, there is a negative shift in sentiment, with selling pressure still existing."

Minmetals Land rose 0.7% after saying it expects a 40% increase in net profit for 2017, owing to a higher gross profit margin at its real estate development business.

Yuhua Energy Holdings climbed 3.2% after saying it expects a "significant increase" in net profit for 2017, thanks to higher sales revenue from energy trading.

Tomson Group, which has interests in property and entertainment, advanced 1.6% after saying it expects a 40% increase in consolidated profit for 2017.

Hong Kong-based property company HengTen Networks Group jumped 7% after saying it expects net profit for last year to increase about 20-fold.

Property company HKC (Holdings) added 2.9% after saying it expects a more than 80% increase in consolidated net profit for 2017.

Evergrande Health Industry Group advanced 5.5% after the media and health care company said it expects net profit to rise about five- or six-fold for 2017 compared with a year earlier.

-- Carrie Chen

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