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Nikkei Markets

Hong Kong stocks trade flat after US stimulus-driven gains

China Life rises after results, while Beigene falls as authority suspends drug

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong stocks were little changed on Thursday after being spurred by U.S. economic stimulus over the previous two days, with investors still cautious over the impact of the new coronavirus on the world.

The Hang Seng Index was flat at 23,527.82 by noon. U.K.-headquartered lender HSBC Holdings slid 1.5%, while diversified Chinese conglomerate CITIC shed 2.8%. China Life Insurance added 1.2% after saying its 2019 net profit more than quintupled from the year before.

The 50-stock index rose 4.5% on Tuesday and 3.8% on Wednesday, aided by the U.S. Federal Reserve's announcement it was willing to buy unlimited government-backed debt and also purchase corporate bonds to cushion the impact of the coronavirus. The measures were on top of two unscheduled interest-rate cuts recently. Additionally, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved an unprecedented $2 trillion emergency aid package.

"Despite the stimulus packages, the market is still jittery," said Kevin Leung, executive director for investment strategy at Haitong International Securities. "We have seen the trough for China and Hong Kong, but the U.S. is nowhere near a trough in terms of valuations. So the risk is a bit higher."

Several other global authorities half also announced their own stimulatory measures in recent days to help their economies endure the coronavirus outbreak, which has infected nearly 450,000 people and killed more than 20,000 around the world so far.

Luca Paolini, chief strategist at Pictet Asset Management, wrote in a note that the market was "pricing in a crisis somewhere in between global financial crisis and the Great Depression," and that the money manager was still cautious on risk assets in the short-term on the prospect of "more bad news coming up."

In the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.2%, while the yuan traded onshore was little changed at 7.1082 against the U.S. dollar.

Shares of biopharmaceutical company Beigene slumped 5% in Hong Kong after the China National Medical Products Administration suspended the import, sale and use of cancer drug Abraxane following an inspection at a contract manufacturing facility in the U.S.

China All Access Holdings slid 8.8% after the communication services provider said its 2019 loss was expected to have widened from the year before.

Huadian Power International advanced 5.3% after saying its 2019 net profit more than doubled from the year before.

CGN Power added 3.5% following an 8.8% increase in its profit last year.

-- Benny Kung

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