HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong stocks headed for a sixth day of losses on Wednesday, with the market benchmark slipping further into a bear market as trade tensions between the U.S. and China showed no signs of easing.
The Hang Seng Index fell 0.4% to 26,317.89 by noon. The gauge entered a technical bear market on Tuesday as it closed more than 20% below an all-time high it reached in January. Sino Biopharmaceutical tumbled 10.2%, leading percentage losses on the gauge, while CSPC Pharmaceutical Group lost 6.9%. The losses came after China's Premier Li Keqiang said in a speech on Tuesday that the process of drug manufacturing should be more strictly overseen.
CK Infrastructure Holdings added 2.3%. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Wednesday approved the company's A$12.98 billion ($9.2 billion) takeover proposal for Australian gas pipeline operator APA Group. Pork producer WH Group slid 3.1%. Smithfield Foods, a U.S. unit of the company, will shut its Tar Heel plant in North Carolina on Thursday and Friday due to Hurricane Florence, Reuters reported, citing a company spokeswoman.
The Hang Seng Index's 14-day relative strength index, a measure of momentum, is currently below 30, a signal to some technical analysts that the gauge may have been oversold. Stocks listed in the city have been under mounting pressure as a trade battle between the U.S. and China heats up, with investors bracing for Washington's next move on proposed tariffs on goods imported from the Asian country.
China has told the World Trade Organization it wants to impose $7 billion a year in sanctions on the U.S., in retaliation for Washington's noncompliance with a ruling on a dispute over American dumping duties initiated in 2013, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
"Investors are very cautious in the trade war environment," said Stanley Chan, research director at Emperor Securities. "A new global trade order is building and we do not know how it will unfold. I do not expect China and the U.S. to reach a trade agreement soon. The depressed market conditions are likely to stay for a period before a rebound."
Concerns that China's economy could slow down at a quicker pace were weighing on mainland banking stocks, Chan said.
The Shanghai Composite fell 0.3% to 2,655.89, hovering near its lowest levels since January 2016. The yuan traded onshore was little changed against the U.S. dollar at 6.8733.
ANTA Sports Products slid 3.8% after saying the company and private-equity firm FountainVest Partners have made a takeover offer for Amer Sports, valuing the Finnish company at 4.66 billion euros ($5.4 billion). Amer Sports controls Wilson Sporting Goods, owner of the Wilson brand of tennis rackets.
Shopping mall operator Renhe Commercial Holdings rose 1.1% after saying it agreed to buy Harbin Dili Fresh Agricultural Produce Enterprise Management from controlling shareholder Dai Yongge. Renhe said it will pay 400 million yuan ($58.2 million) as a refundable deposit to Dai and the target company.
Building contractor Golden Ponder Holdings slumped 4.8% to 30 Hong Kong cents after saying the overallotment option for its initial public offering lapsed without the option being exercised. At its current price, the stock is down 45.5% from its IPO price.
Birmingham Sports Holdings slid 3.1% after forecasting a "substantial" increase in loss for the year ended June 30.
China Chengtong Development Group climbed 5.8% after saying it plans to sell the Cuidao Hotspring Hotel in Haikou in southern China, and its debt receivables, for a minimum consideration of 226 million yuan.
-- Amy Lam