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Nikkei Markets

Hong Kong shares slip amid trade and protests uncertainty

Xiaomi rises on stock buyback plan while GAC extends losses after earnings

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares fell on Tuesday, as caution prevailed while investors awaited further developments on Sino-American trade relations and political unrest in the city.

The Hang Seng Index slipped 0.4% to 25,527.85. Chinese offshore oil producer CNOOC declined 1%. The company late Monday said Yang Hua, nonexecutive director and chairman of board, was resigning and Yuan Guangyu, chief executive officer, was retiring.

Heavyweights mainland lender China Construction Bank and internet services company Tencent Holdings fell 1.2% and 0.6%, respectively. The two stocks contributed most to the gauge's losses by points.

The local equity benchmark traded in a narrow 238-point range on Tuesday as trade tensions between the U.S. and China remain a drag on sentiment. Both nations imposed fresh tariffs on goods imported from each other on Sunday, but neither has formally announced a date for the next round of trade talks.

In Hong Kong, meanwhile, anti-government protests that have lasted for 13 weeks show few signs of easing. The movement, which started peacefully in June over a demand for the withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill, has turned into a wider call for greater rights and democracy.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday addressed a news conference in the city, saying she has never offered to resign. Reuters on Monday released an audio recording it obtained where Lam can be heard saying "if I have a choice, the first thing is to quit, having made a deep apology." The recording was from a meeting with business people last week, according to Reuters.

"The market seems to be in wait-and-see mode, but we do not know what it is waiting for," said Castor Pang, head of research at Core Pacific Yamaichi International (H.K.). "Investors are not going to risk doing anything special these days, so we won't see big movements."

In the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index edged higher by 0.2%. The yuan traded onshore declined 0.1% against the dollar to 7.1783.

Guangzhou Automobile Group fell 3.2% to HK$7.22 in Hong Kong, extending Monday's 5.6% slump that was triggered by a decline in first-half profit. Jefferies cut its target price on the stock to HK$9 from HK$9.70, saying it was revising down its 2019 volume forecast for GAC Trumpchi to reflect near-term sales weakness. The house, however, revised up its volume forecasts for the company's joint ventures with Toyota Motor and Honda Motor, and maintained its "buy" rating on the stock.

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi climbed 4.2% after saying its board of directors had resolved to use its share repurchase mandate to buy back shares in the open market worth up to 12 billion Hong Kong dollars ($1.53 billion). The stock was among the most actively traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, with turnover of HK$1.61 billion.

Lead-acid battery maker Leoch International Technology added 1.8% after saying it plans to buy property located in Shenzhen for 110.31 million yuan ($15.4 million).

Online travel services company Tongcheng-Elong Holdings slipped 1.3% to HK$12.54 after saying Travel Maps, a company founded by Tongcheng-Elong Co-Chairman Wu Zhixiang, disposed 3.2 million ordinary shares through a block trade at HK$12.30 apiece.

-- Benny Kung

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