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Hong Kong shares flat as mainland companies face pressure

Apple suppliers rise on news report of three new iPhones this year

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares were little changed after a choppy Tuesday morning session, as losses for mainland Chinese companies listed in the city eroded an early advance stemming from extended gains on Wall Street.

The Hang Seng Index was up 0.1% to 31,544.19 by midday after changing direction at least six times earlier in the day. AIA Group climbed 4.8% after reporting a 48% increase in net profit for the year ended Nov. 30. The insurer said its value of new business increased 28% to $3.51 billion, while annualized new premiums for the period rose 19% to $6.09 billion. Apple suppliers AAC Technologies Holdings and Sunny Optical Technology Group added 1.2% and 2.1%, respectively. Apple is preparing to release three new smartphones later this year, Bloomberg reported Monday, citing people familiar with the products.

Hong Kong's main index had risen as much as 1% earlier in the session, after all three U.S. equity indexes rallied overnight following a further retreat in Treasury yields. Turnover on Hong Kong's main board, which has been weaker than usual in recent sessions, was about 70 billion Hong Kong dollars ($8.95 billion) by noon.

"The sentiment is good, though the turnover is low," said Jackson Wong, an analyst at Huarong International Securities in Hong Kong. "The U.S. market is about 3% away from its historical high, while the Hang Seng Index is farther, so there's still room for the Hong Kong market to grow."

Still, mainland companies listed in Hong Kong were under pressure, with the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index sliding 0.6%. The Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.9% by noon, while its Shenzhen counterpart had edged 0.2% lower. The onshore-traded yuan added 0.1% to 6.3056 against the U.S. dollar.

Wong expects the Hang Seng Index to reach 32,000 points next week if A-share markets pick up.

Chinese carmaker BYD fell 0.6% in Hong Kong after reporting a 19.7% drop in 2017 preliminary net profit.

Nine Dragons Paper Holdings added 2.3% after saying profit for the July-December quarter doubled to 4.33 billion yuan after revenue for the period rose 34.1%.

Canvest Environmental Protection Group advanced 2% after saying it expects net profit to rise at least 40% in 2017 from 2016.

Logistics center operator Hydoo International Holding was up 3.1% by noon after saying it signed a five-year strategic collaboration agreement with online retailer The stock had jumped as much as 18.5% earlier in the day.

-- Carrie Chen

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