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Nikkei Markets

Hong Kong shares climb as investors watch central banks

Energy producers edge up after steep losses, while crude recovers

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares headed higher on Tuesday, as investors awaited further indications from global central banks on measures they plan to take to help their economies weather the impact of the new coronavirus.

The Hang Seng Index added 1.8% to 25,494.68 by the midday break after slipping briefly during the morning session. The gauge had slumped 4.2% on Monday amid a global sell-off sparked by a plunge in oil prices and risk aversion stemming from the coronavirus.

Energy producers CNOOC and PetroChina climbed 2.7% and 3.3%, respectively, after sliding 9% or more on Monday. Brent crude futures were up 7% after a 24% slide triggered on Monday in the wake of Saudi Arabia's plans to ramp up crude production and slash prices.

Smartphone component supplier Sunny Optical Technology Group added 4.8% after reporting a 48% jump in handset lens-set shipments for February and a 54.6% rise in shipments for handset camera modules.

Still, market participants sounded a cautious tone as the coronavirus, which originated in the city of Wuhan in China's Hubei Province, continues to spread across the globe. Outside of China, Italy and South Korea have the most number of confirmed cases of the infection. While the number of new cases in China has appeared to slow, Italy had more than 9,000 confirmed cases of the virus as of Monday, South Korea had about 7,500, and the U.S. had over 500.

"Global equity markets, including Hong Kong, will continue to experience big volatility in the coming few months," said Mila Yuen, assistant vice president for brokerage at Mason Securities. "While the spread of the virus appears to be greatly slowing down in China, the U.S. is still at the outbreak stage." Yuen said the market is most scared of "uncertainty."

Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve is widely expected to deliver a 75-basis-point rate cut at its meeting next week after an unexpected 50-basis-point cut last week. The European Central Bank, which meets on Thursday, is seen announcing stimulus measures as well.

In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index edged 0.6% higher, while the yuan traded onshore rose 0.1% against the dollar to 6.9367.

YuanShengTai Dairy jumped 5.9% in Hong Kong after saying it expects to have swung to a profit of 200 million yuan ($28.8 million) to 240 million yuan for the year ended Dec. 31, compared with a loss of 556.31 million yuan a year ago.

China Shengmu Organic Milk surged 13.3% after saying it expects to report a profit of at least 100 million yuan for 2019, compared with a loss of 2.31 billion yuan a year ago.

China Tianrui Group Cement added 1.5% after saying it expects profit for the year ended Dec. 31 to have increased "significantly" from a year ago.

Redsun Properties declined 0.9% after saying February contracted sales almost halved from a year ago to 1.16 billion yuan.

-- Benny Kung

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