Hong Kong stocks end slightly lower ahead of Chinese New Year

09:28, February 13, 2010      

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Hong Kong stocks ended slightly lower after a day of range trading on Friday, as investors remained cautious ahead of the four-day Chinese New Year holiday.

The Hang Seng Index tracked overnight gains on the Wall Street to open 0.25 percent higher at 20,240.67. It drew support from a pledge by the euro zone economies to help Greece, which has been troubled by concerns over its sovereign debt risks.

The benchmark index closed 0.11 percent higher at 20,268.69 after moving within the tight range of 20,212.55 and 20,428.32 during the day. It has gained 3.07 percent over the week on reduced expectations for a rate hike in the near term.

Turnover further shrank to 45.67 billion HK dollars (5.86 billion U.S. dollars) on Friday, from Thursday's lackluster 52.94 billion HK dollars (6.79 billion U.S. dollars).

The finance sub-index closed 0.38 percent lower, the commerce and industry category lost 0.04 percent, and the utilities lost 0. 16 percent.

Banking giant HSBC ended down 0.6 HK dollar, or 0.74 percent, at 80.75 HK dollars. Its local unit Hang Seng Bank, however, closed up 0.09 percent at 109.5 HK dollars.

China Mobile, the leading mobile carrier on the Chinese mainland and another market heavyweight, shed 0.6 HK dollar, or 0. 79 percent, at 75.7 HK dollars. Smaller rival China Unicom finished 0.34 percent lower at 8.9 HK dollars.

The mainland-based banking giants also closed lower, with largest commercial lender ICBC down 0.36 percent, China Construction Bank down 0.5 percent and Bank of China 0.52 percent. The Bank of Communications, also a blue chip, ended down 0.75 percent.

The properties sub-index rose 276.20 points, or 1.09 percent, to close at 25,595.63 on expectations for strong sales after the Chinese New Year. Cheung Kong, the business conglomerate headed by Hong Kong's richest man Li Ka-shing, rose 1.6 percent.

Sun Hung Kai Properties, the leading residential housing developer, closed unchanged at 103.1 HK dollars. China Overseas Development gained 1.21 percent.

Tencent, the internet and mobile instant message services operator, built on recent gains by rising 3.2 HK dollars, or 2.21 percent, to close at 148.2 HK dollars.

(7.8 HK dollars = 1 U.S. dollar)

Source: Xinhua
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