HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares set course for a second day of losses as worries over global and local economic growth intensified after a set of data releases.
The Hang Seng Index slipped 0.5% to 25,918.51 by noon. Financial heavyweights HSBC Holdings and AIA Group fell 1.5% and 0.7%, respectively, contributing about half the index's losses by points.
Offshore oil producer CNOOC slipped 1.7% to HK$11.66. Daiwa Capital Markets downgraded the stock to "hold" from "buy" and cut its target price to HK$12.50 from HK$14.70 after lowering earnings outlook to reflect lower oil price expectations. PetroChina fell 1% after Brent crude prices declined 2% overnight. Oil prices have fallen in nine out of the past 12 trading days.
U.S. equity indexes fell for a second day on Wednesday amid worries over a slowdown in the world's largest economy. The ADP National Employment Report showed private employers added 135,000 jobs in September, lower than the 140,000 print that economists polled by Reuters were expecting. Data for August was revised downward. The numbers came on the heels of a weak factory activity reading.
Worries over a slowdown in U.S. economic growth amid a bruising trade war with China have prompted the Federal Reserve to lower rates twice this year. The U.S. central bank is expected to cut interest rates once again at its review later this month.
Still, investor focus remains on an upcoming round of trade talks, said Steven Leung, executive director at UOB Kay Hian (Hong Kong). Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is expected to lead a delegation to Washington next week for a round of high-level trade talks.
"Weak economic data may lead the Donald Trump administration to ease up on terms of trade and reach a partial agreement with China. However, investors have already started discounting this factor," he said.
Meanwhile, data released late Wednesday showed Hong Kong's retail sales plunged 23% in August as monthslong anti-government protests in the city, which typically take place on weekends and public holidays, thwarted tourist arrivals and curbed shopping.
Hong Kong-based jewelry retailers Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group and Luk Fook Holdings International declined 1.6% and 1.4%, respectively.
Leung of UOB expects Hong Kong retail sales to worsen amid a further escalation of protests.
Chinese financial markets are shut through Oct. 7 for the Golden Week holiday.
Property developer Jingrui Holdings slipped 0.8% following a 6.6% decline in September contracted sales.
Watch and spectacles retailer Stelux Holdings International slid 6.7% after saying it expects to have swung to a consolidated net loss for the six months ended Sept. 30 from a profit in the year-ago period.
Cloud-computing-based marketing services company Weimob jumped 8.4% after saying it plans to buy back shares worth up to HK$100 million from time to time.
-- Sunny Ng