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Global credit crunch worries hurt HK stocks
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09:18, April 01, 2008

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Hong Kong stocks fell 1.88 percent yesterday to post their worst quarterly performance in more than six years, as investors took to the sidelines on lingering concerns about the global credit crunch.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 436.75 points to close at 22849.2 points. It fell more than 6 percent for the month of March and was down 18 percent for the quarter.

"The correction was a healthy one and was within predictions. There was no disappointment," said Patrick Yiu, an associate director at CASH Asset Management, adding that local stocks had also tracked softer mainland markets in late trade.

The China Enterprises Index of Hong Kong-listed mainland companies, or H shares, finished down 2.81 percent at 12083.3 points, ending the first quarter down more than 25 percent and the month of March about 13 percent lower.

Mainboard turnover was HK$74.50 billion compared with HK$97.54 billion on Friday.

Brokers said weakness in overseas and mainland markets had weighed on the Hong Kong market.

"The market is expected to be more stable in the upcoming quarter, with buying interest likely to be fuelled ahead of the Beijing Olympics," Yiu said.

"But the underlying tone for the market may still be weak because an uptrend has not been confirmed."

Shares in heavyweight China Mobile led the fall yesterday, falling 2.11 percent to HK$115.80. Insurer China Life plunged 4.29 percent to HK$26.75, while global lender HSBC fell 0.86 percent to HK$126.8.

Airline stocks rebounded on weaker oil prices, bucking the broad market trend. Air China climbed 2.5 percent, China Southern rose 2.01 percent, China Eastern gained 0.51 percent and Cathay Pacific rose 1.73 percent.

New listing Solargiga Energy Holdings failed to excite the market, closing at HK$2.93, up just 0.3 percent from its IPO price of HK$2.92. It raised about $127 million in an IPO that was delayed and downsized amid weak markets.

Another new listing, aluminum profiles maker Xingfa Aluminium Holdings, fell more than 7 percent to end at HK$2.11 compared with its issue price of HK$2.28.

Brokers said the umimpressive performance suggested that investors were still cautious on IPOs.

Shares of China Resources rose 1.63 percent to HK$25 after the beverage-to-ports conglomerate posted a 79 percent rise in full-year profit, thanks to strong retail and beer sales, and gains from the sale of a unit.

Source: China Daily/Agencies



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