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Nikkei Markets

Hong Kong shares flat as traders pause ahead of Christmas

China Unicom slides after reporting November subscriber numbers

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares were little changed in modest trading on Monday, with investors on the sidelines at the start of a holiday-shortened week.

The Hang Seng Index added less than 0.1% to 27,889.12 by noon. China Construction Bank rose 0.6%, while Sino Biopharmaceutical and CSPC Pharmaceutical Group advanced 2.2% and 1.9%, respectively.

China Unicom (Hong Kong) fell 1.9% after saying it lost a net of 0.856 million mobile billing subscribers in November from a year ago.

Hong Kong's financial markets will close at noon on Tuesday in a holiday-shortened trading day and be shut for the Christmas and Boxing Day holidays before reopening on Friday. Markets will also be shut on Jan. 1. Turnover on the stock exchange's main board was at 36.07 billion Hong Kong dollars ($4.63 billion) as of midday.

"The holiday impact is quite big, and people are trying to pocket profits in the short-term," said Andy Wong, chief investment strategist at LW A.M. "People will be looking at the signing of the U.S.-China trade deal in the New Year."

In the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.5%, while the yuan traded onshore edged 0.1% lower to 7.0126 against the dollar. China's Ministry of Finance on Monday said it will cut import tariffs for goods including frozen pork, pharmaceuticals and some high-tech components starting on Jan. 1. The move comes at a time when the U.S. and China are close to signing a preliminary trade deal that was agreed on earlier this month. Beijing has pledged to buy more American agricultural produce, while Washington has halted fresh import tariffs on Chinese goods and reduced some levies imposed earlier.

The Hang Seng Index, meanwhile, is hovering near its highest level since July. U.S. equity indexes have, on the other hand, repeatedly hit record highs.

Lingerie maker Regina Miracle International (Holdings) surged 17.9% to HK$5.15 after saying Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Hung Yau Lit bought one million company shares at an average price of HK$4.21 each last Friday.

Dongfeng Motor Group declined 2.1% despite reporting a 2.2% year-over-year increase in total sales volume for November.

Fabric maker Weiqiao Textile fell 4.2% after saying it expects to record a larger year-over-year decline in net profit for the second half of 2019.

Apparel maker Bosideng International Holdings jumped 8.9% to HK$3.18 after saying it plans to buy back up to 10% of its shares in the open market. The stock has more than doubled so far this year.

--Benny Kung

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