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Nikkei Markets

Hong Kong shares flat after long weekend

Chinese developers slump after Beijing aims to quash property speculation

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares were little changed after a choppy morning trading session on Tuesday, with insurers rising and Chinese property developers declining, as investors returned from a long weekend.

The Hang Seng Index was down 0.1% to 29,938.35 by noon after edging 0.2% higher last week. The index changed direction several times during the morning session. Markets in Hong Kong were closed on Friday and Monday for the Easter holiday.

Country Garden Holdings and China Overseas Land & Investment fell 3.7% and 2.4%, respectively, leading percentage losses on the index. The declines came after the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China, or the Politburo, on Friday reiterated that housing is for living and not for speculation. The statement came after a meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping.

Among other mainland developers, Sunac China Holdings declined 4.9%, China Vanke fell 4.3% and China Evergrande Group lost 3%.

China Life Insurance rose 2.7% after saying it expects to report an increase of 80% to 100% in first quarter net profit. Ping An Insurance Group added 0.6%.

Social media and gaming heavyweight Tencent Holdings edged 0.2% higher. The company on Thursday received approval from a Guangdong provincial authority to distribute gaming console Nintendo Switch with a built-in game in that province, a development that takes the Shenzhen-based company's presence into the gaming hardware segment.

The Hang Seng Index, which entered a technical bull market earlier this month after rising 20% from an October low, has struggled to stay above 30,000 points in recent days as traders await fresh developments between the U.S. and China on trade, and first-quarter earnings reports in the U.S. and at home.

"Markets will fluctuate around 30,000 as there is no news," said Daniel So, strategist at CMB International Securities. Investors are looking for first-quarter results from banks and insurers, he added.

In the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index edged 0.4% lower after sliding 1.7% on Monday. The yuan traded onshore was little changed against the U.S. dollar at 6.7121.

Garment maker Pak Tak International fell 1.5% after saying a substantial shareholder is engaged in preliminary talks with a third party related to the possible sale of its holdings in the company. The company's shares had jumped more than 76% on Thursday before trading was halted at 1 p.m.

Stella International Holdings advanced 3.5% after the footwear maker it expects profit for the March quarter to have risen "significantly" from a year ago.

Flat Glass Group added 2% following a 10.9% increase in March quarter profit.

-- Amy Lam

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