Asian shares mixed, Hong Kong tumbles after protests
HONG KONG–Asian markets were mixed Monday, with Hong Kong tumbling more than two percent at one point after a weekend of unrest as pro-democracy demonstrations led to the closure of parts of the city.
The stand-off, the worst since the handover in 1997, saw police fire tear gas into crowds of thousands of protesters on Sunday and has led to the closure of several businesses, bank branches and schools.
Protest leaders have vowed not to back down until Beijing gives in to their demands for full universal suffrage.
Hong Kong slumped 1.90 percent, or 449.20 points, to 23,229.21, recovering somewhat after losing 2.31 percent during intraday trade.
The city’s banking giants took a heavy hit, with HSBC ending down 1.77 percent, Hang Seng Bank 2.42 percent lower and Standard Chartered down 2.54 percent.
The index was already on a downtrend owing to concerns about the Chinese economy following a string of weak indicators recently. It has lost 6.5 percent since hitting its 2014 high at the start of the month.
A report by New York-based advisory firm JL Warren Capital said: “We are likely to see (a) major sell-off and volatility for days to come” in the Hong Kong stock market.
Elsewhere Sydney ended 0.93 percent lower, shedding 49.2 points to 5,264.2, while Seoul eased 0.25 percent, or 5.04 points, to close at 2,026.60.
However, Tokyo finished 0.50 percent higher, adding 80.78 points to 16,310.64. Shanghai put on 0.43 percent, or 9.99 points, to 2,357.71, with mainland investors seemingly unfazed by events in Hong Kong.
US economy picks up pace
Japanese shares ticked up as the dollar pushed up against the yen, heading toward the 110 yen mark after US data showed the economy expanded at its fastest pace since 2011 during the April-June quarter.
Gross domestic product grew 4.6 percent, the Commerce Department said, better than the previous 4.2 percent estimate.
The figure showed a strong rebound from the first quarter’s 2.1 percent contraction, which was blamed in part on unusually severe winter weather.
The news sent the dollar higher in New York, hitting 109.28 in late trade Friday. On Monday the greenback bought 109.60 yen.
In Tokyo Monday the euro was at $1.2686 compared with $1.2683 while it was also at 139.05 yen, from 138.60 yen.
Wall Street Friday provided a strong lead for Asia, with the Dow rising 0.99 percent, the S&P 500 adding 0.86 percent and the Nasdaq rallying 1.02 percent.
On oil markets US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for November delivery dropped 54 cents to $93.00. Brent crude for November fell 31 cents to $96.69 in afternoon trade.
Gold was at $1,219.65 an ounce at 1323 GMT against $1,223.10 late Friday.
In other markets:
— Taipei fell 0.32 percent, or 29.06 points, to 8,960.76.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. was 0.41 percent lower at Tw$120.5, while Hon Hai Precision Industry gained 0.51 percent to Tw$97.6.
— Wellington rose 0.11 percent, or 6.02 points, to 5,259.51.
Spark was up 0.34 percent at NZ$2.96 and Xero added 1.69 percent to NZ$21.00.
— Manila was marginally higher, adding 4.06 points to 7,265.36.
Philippine Long Distance Telephone fell 3.38 percent to 3,090 pesos while Globe Telecom declined 5.61 percent to 1,667 pesos. BDO Unibank was unchanged at 97 pesos.
— Singapore was flat, dipping 2.49 points to 3,289.72.
Singapore Telecommunications rose 0.26 percent to Sg$3.81 while United Overseas Bank fell 0.27 percent to Sg$22.56.
— Malaysia edged up 5.84 points to 1,846.34, a gain of 0.32 percent.
Banking group CIMB rose 2.86 percent to 7.19 ringgit while conglomerate Berjaya Corp added 2.63 percent to 0.585 ringgit.
— Mumbai ended little changed, easing 0.11 percent, or 29.21 points, to 26,597.11.
Strides Arcolab rose 9.20 percent to 701.95 rupees, while Suzlon Energy fell 4.90 percent to 13.60 rupees.
— Bangkok lost 0.90 percent, or 14.37 percent, to close at 1,585.79.
Coal producer Banpu fell 1.65 percent, or 0.50 baht, to 29.75, while Bangkok Bank lost 2.40 percent, or 5 baht, to 203.
— Jakarta ended up 0.18 percent, or 9.45 points, at 5,142.01.
Carmaker Astra International rose 0.71 percent to 7,050 rupiah, while state miner Aneka Tambang fell 1.82 percent to 1,080 rupiah.