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Nikkei Markets

Hong Kong stocks erase gains amid uncertainty over protests

Alibaba in focus as e-commerce major opens public offering in city

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong stocks gave up early gains to end little changed on Friday as uncertainty over mass protests in the territory lingered and the city braced for further unrest over the weekend.

The Hang Seng Index ended the day at 26,326.66, up 0.01% from Thursday's close, after rising as high as 26,544.65 earlier on Friday. The gauge had dropped to a one-month low on Thursday.

Pan-Asia insurer AIA Group climbed 0.8% while China Construction Bank rose 0.5%. Bourse operator Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing slipped 0.5%. Chinese e-commerce major Alibaba Group Holding on Friday commenced a keenly awaited public offering in Hong Kong from which it could raise up to HK$94 billion ($12 billion) in gross proceeds.

The Hang Seng Index dropped 4.8% for the week as the city reels from intensifying anti-government protests, which led to the shooting of an activist on Monday. Protesters seeking universal suffrage and an independent investigation into police actions have this week disrupted public transport and staged demonstrations across the city, including in the Central business district.

Larry Hung, a fund manager at China Tonghai Securities, said investors were worried over the potential for further unrest over the weekend.

"People have no idea how the Hong Kong situation will evolve. I would wait for clarity," he said.

Investors were also watching developments related to the Sino-American trade war. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow had on Thursday indicated that a preliminary Sino-American trade agreement was imminent. The two nations have signaled that they are close to signing a "phase one" trade agreement. No dates for a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and China's Xi Jinping have yet been announced.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index ended 0.6% lower on Friday.

ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance added 1.9% in Hong Kong after reporting a 24.1% increase in gross written premium income for the January to October period.

BeiGene jumped 6.6% after saying its drug Brukinsa had received accelerated approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for mantle cell lymphoma in adult patients who have received at least one prior therapy.

Furniture designer and seller Man Wah Holdings was down 1.7% after reporting a 6.1% year-on-year increase for its half-year net profit ended Sep. 30.

Luggage maker Samsonite International slipped 1.4% after reporting a 28.7% decrease in net profit for the January to September period.

-- Benny Kung

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