ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronCrossEye IconFacebook IconIcon FacebookGoogle Plus IconLayer 1InstagramCreated with Sketch.Linkedin IconIcon LinkedinShapeCreated with Sketch.Icon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailMenu BurgerIcon Opinion QuotePositive ArrowIcon PrintRSS IconIcon SearchSite TitleTitle ChevronTwitter IconIcon TwitterYoutube Icon
Nikkei Markets

Hong Kong shares lead Nikkei Asia300 Index lower

Hong Kong dollar weakness hurts heavyweights listed in the city

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan fell on Monday, dragged down by weakness in Hong Kong-listed property developers and Chinese financial companies.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index lost 0.6% to 1,425.32. AIA Group slid 4% and Sun Hung Kai Properties gave up 2.9%. The losses came as the Hong Kong dollar traded at 7.8499 to the U.S. dollar, near the lower end of its 7.75-to-7.85 range against the greenback. The weakness prompted the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to intervene in the foreign exchange markets last week and on Monday to support the peg.

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) lost 2.4% and China Construction Bank (CCB) shed 2.3% on speculation competition among lenders for deposits may boost rates and weigh on their net interest margins. Reuters reported late on Friday, citing sources familiar with the matter, that the People's Bank of China will relax its informal guidance for the upper limit of commercial banks' deposit rates.

Ping An Insurance Group fell 2% despite reporting a 20.6% increase in January-March life insurance business gross premium income.

Casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group slid 3% after China's plans to set up a free trade zone on Hainan island and explore development of sports lottery and horse-racing events in the province fueled speculation that Macau's allure as a destination for gambling-related activities may be weakened.

The country gauges for Hong Kong and China declined 2.3% and 1.7%, respectively.

Andy Wong, chief investment strategist at wealth-management company Harris Fraser (International), cited Syria-related war worries and concern about capital flight because of a weakened Hong Kong dollar among concerns that weighed on sentiment.

Some participants said further military action was unlikely. The Pentagon said the U.S. missiles targeted chemical-weapons facilities after the Syrian government was suspected to have carried out a poison gas attack in a rebel-held town earlier this month.

"Saturday's operation, which also included the U.K. and France, was a limited one, and intended to be a one-off as President Trump declared 'mission accomplished,'" said Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM.

The Nikkei Asia300 ASEAN Index of Southeast Asian companies edged 0.1% higher, while the country gauge for South Korea added 0.2%. Taiwan's index slipped 0.1%. Heavyweight Samsung Electronics rose 1.1% in Seoul, while Hon Hai Precision Industry climbed 0.7% in Taipei.

Singapore's index rose 0.1%. According to data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority, developers in the city state sold 718 new units in March. The number excludes executive condominiums, which are reserved for Singaporeans. Although the March figure is an 87% rise from the 384 apartments sold in February, it's a sharp drop from the 1,780 apartments sold in the year-earlier month.

-- V. Phani Kumar and Amy Lam

Get unique insights on Asia, the most dynamic market in the world.

Offer ends September 30th

You have {{numberReadArticles}} FREE ARTICLE{{numberReadArticles-plural}} left this month

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Get unlimited access
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

{{sentenceStarter}} {{numberReadArticles}} free article{{numberReadArticles-plural}} this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most dynamic market in the world.

Benefit from in-depth journalism from trusted experts within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends September 30th

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media