Hong Kong Shares May Open Lower, Weekly Loss Looms

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Hong Kong shares may struggle to make headway on Friday, likely hamstrung by worries over a budget impasse in the United States and ongoing uncertainty about the Federal Reserve's policy outlook.

File photo of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Chairman Arculli and CEO Li hitting gong on first trading day after   Lunar New Year holidays at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange

Hong Kong shares may struggle to make headway on Friday, likely hamstrung by worries over a budget impasse in the United States and ongoing uncertainty about the Federal Reserve's policy outlook.

China will allow banks to price loans based on market-based benchmark rates and will allow banks to launch certificates of deposit soon, the central bank said on Thursday. No time frame was given.

On Thursday, the Hang Seng Index ended down 0.4 percent at 23,125 points, hovering in the same range for a third day. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong fell 0.5 percent.

On the week, they are down 1.6 and 2.2 percent, respectively - their first weekly loss since the week that ended Aug. 30, 2013.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei was down 0.2 percent, while South Korea's KOSPI was up 0.3 percent at 0048 GMT.

FACTORS TO WATCH:

* Nine Dragons Paper (Holdings) Ltd, a top packaging supplier in China, said its full year profit rose 9.9 percent.

* SOHO China Limited said it had succeeded in the tender for a piece of land for commercial and financial use in the Lize Financial Business District of Beijing for 1.922 billion yuan, representing an average land cost of 15,500 yuan per square meter.

* Beijing Enterprises Water Group Limited said it would issue 400 million new shares to the Malaysian government-backed Mount Reskit Investments Limited at HK$2.95 each, a 5.1 percent discount to its previous close, raising HK$1.18 billion for general working capital.

* Powerlong Real Estate Holdings Limited said one of its units has successfully tendered for a land in Hangzhou for 1.785 billion yuan. The land will be developed into office buildings, a shopping mall and street shops.

* Sihuan Pharmaceutical Holdings Group Ltd said its unit has entered into a collaborative agreement with Guangzhou Boji Pharmaceutical Biology Technology Inc. Boji agreed to transfer all proprietary rights in relation to the technology of Pidotimod injection and carrying out phase II and III clinical trials on the new drug to Sichuan.

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