HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares ended little changed on Monday after a choppy trading session, with investors waiting to see if the U.S. and China will sign a preliminary trade agreement before a tariff deadline on Dec. 15.
The Hang Seng Index slipped 0.01% to 26,494.73. Heavyweights diverged, with London-headquartered lender HSBC Holdings adding 0.4% and China Mobile adding 1.2%, while pan-Asia insurer AIA Group fell 0.5%. Pharmaceutical companies retreated amid worries over pricing pressure on drugs, with CSPC Pharmaceutical Group sliding 5.1% and Sino Biopharmaceutical skidding 4.7%.
Markets are awaiting clarity on a phase one Sino-American trade deal, as the deadline for higher U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods looms. Meanwhile, data released on Sunday showed China's exports unexpectedly fell 1.1% from a year earlier in November, worsening from October's 0.9% drop. Analysts polled by Reuters were expecting a 1% expansion in exports. Imports rose 0.3% from a year earlier.
"Worries over the trade war are not dissipating," said Alan Li, portfolio manager at Atta Capital. "Investors are anxious," especially as the year end is approaching.
In the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index ended less than 0.1% higher.
In Hong Kong, an estimated 800,000 people participated in a peaceful march on Sunday as an anti-government movement entered its seventh month. The protest was the largest the city has seen in months, and came weeks after pro-democracy candidates won a landslide victory in local elections.
Smartphone component supplier Q Technology (Group) climbed 0.2% in Hong Kong following a 66% jump in sales volume for camera modules in November.
PacRay International Holdings jumped 8% after the integrated circuit and semiconductor parts maker said its controlling shareholder Glory Genius International Holdings proposed to sell a 4.5% stake in the company to Zhong Cai Capital Group.
Anta Sports Products fell 2.6% even as the sportswear retailer said it expects net profit for the year ending Dec. 31 to rise at least 45% from a year ago.
Longfor Group Holdings added 2% after reporting a 17% increase in November contracted sales. Greenland Hong Kong Holdings advanced 5% after saying its unit won a bid to buy a land parcel in China's Nantong city for 1.23 billion yuan ($178.8 million).
Powerlong Real Estate Holdings rose 2.1% following a 9.8% increase in November contracted sales.
Shares of China PengFei Group, which makes rotary kilns and grinding equipment, dropped 4.6% to HK$1.05. The company said during the midday break that an overallotment option related to its recent initial public offering had lapsed without being exercised. The stock had listed in Hong Kong last month at an IPO price of HK$1.58.
-- Benny Kung