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Nikkei Markets

Trade-talk optimism lifts Hong Kong shares from monthly low

BeiGene climbs after US FDA accelerates lymphoma drug approval

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares set course for their first gain in three days on Friday, helped by some positive indications for the outcome of U.S.-China trade relations.

The Hang Seng Index had added 0.3% to 26,408.86 by noon after closing at a one-month low on Thursday.

Financial heavyweights contributed most to the gauge's gains by points. Pan-Asia insurer AIA Group climbed 1.8% while China Construction Bank rose 1%.

Bourse operator Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing advanced 1%. Alibaba Group Holding on Friday commenced its Hong Kong public offering that could see the Chinese e-commerce major raise about HK$94 billion ($12 billion) in gross proceeds.

Sentiment surrounding Sino-American trade relations received a boost after White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow 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, but no dates for a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and China's Xi Jinping have been announced.

The trade war is offering short-term support to the Hang Seng Index, said Larry Hung, fund manager at China Tonghai Securities. Gains are limited as investors worry what could happen over the weekend, he added. "People have no idea how the Hong Kong situation will evolve. I would wait for clarity if I were an investor."

The city's main equity gauge is down 4.5% for the week so far as the city reels from a week of intensifying anti-government demonstrations following the death of a protester last week and the shooting of an activist on Monday. Protesters this week disrupted public transport during the morning rush hour, and staged demonstrations across the city including the Central business district. The demonstrations, which usually take place on weekends or after work hours, have turned increasingly violent in recent days.

In the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index was little changed. The yuan traded onshore climbed 0.2% against the dollar to 7.0079.

ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance added 1.5% in Hong Kong after reporting a 24.1% increase in gross written premium income for the January-to-October period.

BeiGene jumped 4.9% after saying its drug Brukinsa received accelerated approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as treatment for mantle cell lymphoma in adult patients who have received at least one prior therapy.

Mason Group Holdings climbed 4.4%. The financial and health services company on Friday said its unit Mason Dairy agreed to sell GL Food Holdings to Wattle Health Australia Investments for $55 million.

Luggage maker Samsonite International slipped 0.4% after reporting a 28.7% decrease in net profit for the January-to-September period.

--Benny Kung

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