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Nikkei Markets

Hong Kong shares slip on worries over protests and trade

Chow Tai Fook and Sa Sa fall amid decline in city's tourist arrivals

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares headed lower on Wednesday after protests in the city turned violent on the National Day holiday, with investors also turning cautious as they awaited Sino-American trade talks due later this month.

The Hang Seng Index was down 0.3% to 26,022.33 by noon after falling as much as 1.2% earlier. Heavyweights Tencent Holdings and HSBC Holdings fell 1.4% and 1.1%, respectively. Casino operator Sands China declined 0.4% even as data released on Tuesday showed Macau's September gaming revenue rose 0.6% from a year ago.

Hong Kong and mainland financial markets were closed on Tuesday for China's National Day. Markets in China will remain shut through Oct. 7.

Tensions were running high in Hong Kong after a policeman shot a teenage activist amid citywide protests that turned violent on Tuesday. It was the first time that live ammunition was fired since the protests began. Anti-government demonstrations, which were sparked over a controversial extradition bill in June, have since then evolved into a broader movement for democratic rights.

Meanwhile, markets were awaiting the outcome of a fresh round of trade talks set to take place in Washington later this month. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will lead a team to the U.S. after the National Day holiday, according to media reports, citing the nation's Ministry of Commerce. Talks are reportedly scheduled to take place on Oct. 10 and 11.

"The market is worried about the impact of large-scale global events in October and the fourth quarter," said Kimmy Tong, research director at Anli Securities.

Social events in Hong Kong are having some impact, but Sino-American trade talks and Brexit are the biggest factors, she added. "The Hong Kong market is still resilient, with strong support around 25,000 points despite many political and trade issues."

Markets across Asia traded lower on Wednesday after indexes on Wall Street declined overnight. Data on Tuesday showed U.S. factory activity for September contracted to its weakest level in more than a decade, according to Reuters. Concerns over a slowdown in U.S. economic growth have plagued markets for months, and the Federal Reserve has cut interest rates twice so far this year.

Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group and cosmetics retailer Sa Sa International Holdings slid 2.3% each. Retailers have come under pressure as tourist arrivals into Hong Kong dwindled in recent months amid protests. In August, the number of tourists coming to Hong Kong slumped about 39% from a year ago, data showed on Monday.

A-Living Services jumped 8.1% to HK$19.54. Goldman Sachs reiterated its "buy" rating on the stock and lifted its target price to HK$25 from HK$21.80, citing attractive valuations.

Sisram Medical rose 1.5% after Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group said it will buy an additional 21.9% stake in the Israel-based company for 390 million Hong Kong dollars ($49.7 million), taking its ownership to 74.76%. Fosun Pharma shares slipped 0.5%.

China Yongda Automobiles Services Holdings added 2% after saying it plans to buy all of Inchcape Asia Pacific from London-based automotive distributor Inchcape Overseas for 830 million yuan ($116.1 million).

-- Benny Kung

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