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Monday, September 17, 2001, updated at 21:47(GMT+8)

HK Stocks Plunge Ahead of Reopening of US Market

Hong Kong stocks plunged nearly 3.5 percent Monday before the US markets reopen Monday night after a four-day suspension.

An overwhelming 30 of the 33 blue chips fell with the largest blue chip, HSBC Holdings, in the lead.

Airline stocks suffered heavy selling as the air traffic industry is among one of the most affected by the terrorist attacks in the US last Tuesday.

China cellophane companies, major culprits of recent market slumps, however, stayed firm.

At the day's close, the benchmark Hang Seng Index was down 336.10 points, or 3.48 percent, at 9,319.35, having moved between 9, 251.71 and 9,411.65.

Turnover was 6.371 billion HK dollars (817 million U.S. dollars), virtually unchanged from last Friday's figure.

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., Hong Kong's only long-haul airline, ended the day down 10.1 percent at a 52-week low of 6.25 HK dollars, having fallen to 5.90 HK dollars intraday.

Swire Pacific Ltd. gave up 6.9 percent to 30.80 HK dollars to take into account the share price plunge in Cathay.

Citic Pacific Ltd., a conglomerate part owned by China's biggest international investment company, which also has a stake in Cathay, shed 6.4 percent to 13.80 HK dollars.

Among the three major airlines in the Chinese mainland, China Southern Airlines Ltd. dropped 14.8 percent to 1.50 HK dollars while China Eastern Airlines Corp. sank 14.8 percent to 69 HK cents, a 52-week low.

HSBC Holdings, Europe's largest bank, which has a large exposure to the U.S. economy, ended down 5.6 percent at a 52-week low of 75.25 HK dollars, having fallen to as low as 75 HK dollars on highest turnover of 1.1 billion HK dollars (141 million HK dollars).

Hong Kong-based Hang Seng Bank shed 2.2 percent to 77.50 HK dollars but has its share price higher than parent HSBC.

China stocks underperformed the broader market, with red chips falling a steeper 6.23 percent as a group while H shares shed 5.68 percent.

The Growth Enterprise Market Index, which tracks the performance of the technology-laden second board, shed 6.81 points, or 4 percent, to 163.61.

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Hong Kong stocks plunged nearly 3.5 percent Monday before the US markets reopen Monday night after a four-day suspension.

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