Hang Seng Index falls, as Alibaba debut and trade war progress fail to reassure investors worried Hong Kong unrest will return

Deb Price

Hong Kong stocks slipped Tuesday, as renewed concerns about protests outweighed hopes for a partial trade deal and upbeat sentiment about Alibaba’s trading debut, marking the biggest initial public offering in the world this year.

The Hang Seng Index slipped 0.3 per cent to 26,913.92, snapping a two-session winning streak, with property stocks declining. It was the fifth straight trading day that the Hang Seng Index failed to close above 27,000.

Meanwhile, Alibaba – China’s e-commerce giant that listed five years ago in the US – rose 6.6 per cent to HK$187.60 on the first trading day of its secondary listing in Hong Kong. It raised US$12.9 billion in its IPO.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index eked out a small gain, rising by 0.03 per cent to 2,907.06.

Alibaba shares rise in Hong Kong market debut after completing biggest IPO in 2019

The CSI 300 Index of large caps traded in Shanghai and Shenzhen rose 0.4 per cent to 3,891.65.

Protests weighed on sentiment in Hong Kong.

Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam acknowledged that the anti-government sweep in Sunday’s elections had a “more political dimension” and sent a message of “unhappiness” about “deficiencies” in the government and its handling of social unrest roiling the city for more than five months. But she offered no concessions.

“Pro-Democratic gains have likely put Hong Kong on a collision course with Beijing, and further social unrest may be expected,” said Brock Silvers, managing director of Adamas Asset Management. “Which of course won’t be a positive for the market.”

Property stocks, which have been hammered during the unrest, fell.

Wharf REIC dropped 2.1 per cent to HK$43.80, while CK Asset Holdings slid 2.3 per cent to HK$52.45 and New World Development declined 1.7 per cent to HK$10.36.

Meanwhile, Sa Sa international Holdings, a cosmetics retailer whose shares have been battered by the plunge in mainland tourists over the protests, fell 2.2 per cent to HK$1.80.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam: Beijing is not holding me accountable for election humiliation and I’m not addressing protesters’ demands

The top percentage gainer was China Mengniu Dairy, which rose 3 per cent to HK$30.55, making it the benchmark’s top percentage gainer.

On Monday, it announced Monday that it will buy a second Australian dairy and drink maker – Lion-Dairy and Drinks – as part of its international expansion plans. In September, it said it would buy Australia baby milk formula maker Bellamy’s for US$1 billion.

US-China trade war: Liu He, Robert Lighthizer and Steven Mnuchin hold phone call on core concerns over phase one deal

Meanwhile, top US and China trade negotiators talked on the telephone Tuesday morning about their core concerns and agreed to keep talking on a possible interim trade agreement.

“They are running out of time,” said Kenny Wen, wealth management strategist at Everbright Sun Hung Kai, noting the approaching Christmas and New Year’s holidays as well as Chinese New Year.

“I hope they can make a mini deal. This is obviously a key market focus and would be very good for market sentiment,” Wen said.

Mainland China stocks got a boost from a massive fund inflow from northbound trading via the Stock Connect ahead of the increase of A shares’ weight in the MSCI global benchmarks. That helped offset the heavy selling in steelmakers in mainland markets.

“International institutions raised their holdings in mainland mid-cap stocks after some of them were included in the MSCI indicators during afternoon trading,” said Zhou Ling, a hedge fund manager with Shanghai Shiva Investment. “The fresh capital influx gave investors confidence in market outlook.”

Index compiler MSCI raised the A-share inclusion factor from 15 per cent to 20 per cent after market close on Tuesday, with 189 mid-cap mainland stocks picked as components in the benchmarks for the first time.

Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges received net inflow of 21.4 billion yuan (US$3.04 billion) from northbound trading, setting an all-time high.

Among sectors in the mainland, wireless headsets gained, with a gauge tracking 38 related stocks climbing 1.8 per cent. Apple AirPod supplier Luxshare Precision rose 2.6 per cent to 33.30 yuan.

Apple AirPods craze spreads to China, becoming music to the ears of wireless-headset stock investors

Gauges showed steel stocks fell 3 per cent while cement stocks dropped 1.8 per cent.

Anyang Iron and Steel, which hit the 10 per cent upside limit Monday, fell 4.2 per cent to 2.51 yuan. Huaxin Cement fell 2.4 per cent to 21.91 yuan after its 10 per cent gain Monday.

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