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Nikkei Markets

Hong Kong shares flat as macroeconomic headwinds linger

CSPC Pharma jumps after first-half earnings

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares were little changed after a choppy morning trading session on Tuesday, as investor sentiment was buffeted by worries over global growth and concerns over political unrest in the city.

The Hang Seng Index was flat at 26,294.08 by noon after changing directions at least seven times. CSPC Pharmaceutical Group jumped 10.8%, leading gains on the gauge after the Chinese drugmaker reported a 24.8% surge in profit for the first half of the year. CK Asset Holdings was up 0.5% by the midday break after rising as much as 3% earlier. The developer late Monday announced plans to buy British pub operator Greene King in a deal that values the latter's share capital on a fully diluted basis at 2.7 billion pounds ($3.28 billion).

The local benchmark index has risen 4% in a four-day winning streak through Monday, but it is still down more than 5% so far in August as external and internal headwinds keep investors wary.

While a rebound for the Hang Seng Index may continue, "the magnitude will likely be limited, given that fundamental factors have not shown any signs of improvement," said Stanley Chik, head of research at Bright Smart Securities. "More negative macro news, especially a further weakening of the global economy, could drive the index to 25,000 points again."

Among factors weighing on sentiment was a brief inversion of the U.S. Treasury yield curve last week that raised concerns of an impending recession in the world's largest economy. Investors are awaiting minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve's last policy meeting, due on Wednesday, for cues on further rate cuts.

Meanwhile, investors are also keeping an eye on the back-and-forth between Beijing and Washington on trade issues. The outlook for an early resolution dimmed after U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this month unexpectedly announced plans to impose tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods.

Weekslong protests in Hong Kong continued over the weekend, with a peaceful demonstration on Sunday drawing an estimated 1.7 million people to the streets. The activists are demanding that the government withdraw its now-shelved controversial extradition bill, conduct an independent investigation into the police's use of force during the demonstrations and implement universal suffrage.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam in a news conference on Tuesday reiterated that the extradition bill was "dead," and said that she would create a platform for dialogue between Hong Kong people and the government. Lam has not agreed to withdraw the bill.

In the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index edged 0.1% higher by midday. The yuan traded onshore fell 0.3% against the dollar to 7.0674.

WuXi AppTec climbed 4.2% in Hong Kong after the Chinese medical technology platform reported a 20.1% year-on-year increase in profit for the first half of the year.

Fosun Tourism Group, a subsidiary of Fosun International, jumped 10.9% after the company said it swung to a profit in the January-to-June period as revenue rose 35.9% from a year ago.

Xiwang Special Steel tumbled 12.2% after the Chinese steelmaker said it expects profit for the first half to decline 60% to 70% from a year ago.

-- Benny Kung

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