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Nikkei Markets

Hong Kong shares plumb three-year lows as US futures slump

Tencent falls ahead of results, while China Literature rises after earnings

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares gave up intraday gains to end lower on Wednesday, tracking weakness across the region and in U.S. equity index futures, as investors fretted over the unfolding global economic impact of the new coronavirus.

The Hang Seng Index fell 4.2% to 22,291.82, its lowest close since January 2017, giving up earlier gains. Pan-Asia insurer AIA Group slid 5.2%, contributing most to the index's losses by points.

HSBC Holdings fell 0.9%. The London-headquartered lender on Wednesday named Noel Quinn as permanent group chief executive officer. Quinn has been interim head of the Asia-focused bank since August, following the exit of predecessor John Flint.

Social media and gaming major Tencent Holdings slid 4.5% ahead of its results, due later on Wednesday. Its unit China Literature jumped 6.3% after reporting a 20% jump in 2019 profit and a 66% surge in revenue on Tuesday.

U.S. equity futures pointed to a likely weaker opening on Wall Street later on Wednesday as risk appetite remains weak amid worries over the coronavirus. The infection, which has so far claimed nearly 8,000 lives globally, continues to spread fast and wide. Many major cities across the world have been taking measures to control the spread of the coronavirus, including shutting down schools and restaurants and canceling large-scale gatherings.

"Once panic sentiment spreads, it can set everything on fire," said Stanley Chik, head of research at Bright Smart Securities, noting that risk-off sentiment lingered in the market. "This could explain why the market has not yet stabilized despite two rate cuts, and volatility seems to only have increased."

Chik was referring to the U.S. Federal Reserve's two recent unscheduled interest-rate reductions.

In the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index ended 1.8% lower, also giving up earlier gains. The yuan traded onshore fell 0.3% against the dollar to 7.0260.

Leyou Technologies slid 14.1% in Hong Kong after saying it expects to report a loss for the year ended Dec. 31, compared with a profit a year ago.

Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels fell 4.6% following a 59% plunge in 2019 profit and a 5% decrease in revenue.

Link-Asia International soared 45.5% after the company said it received exclusive rights from Shanghai BioGerm Medical Biotechnology to sell and distribute its novel coronavirus detection kit in five European countries. It also secured nonexclusive rights for other countries.

A-Living Services climbed 0.9% after a 53.7% jump in 2019 net profit and a 51.8% increase in revenue.

-- Benny Kung

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