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=ASIA MARKETS: Hong Kong Shares Struggle After Wall Street Pullback

HONG KONG (Oct 13) -- Hong Kong stocks were little changed on Friday after modest overnight losses on Wall Street and range-bound trading for mainland equities as investors awaited a key Communist Party meeting in China next week.

The Hang Seng Index rose less than 0.1% to 28,468.76 by midday after changing direction a few times. Apple-supplier AAC Technologies Holdings led gains with a 3.5% increase, while personal-computer maker Lenovo Group rose 3.2%. Heavyweight Tencent Holdings lost 0.9%.

HSBC Holdings fell 0.4%. The London-headquartered lender, Citigroup and Deutsche Bank together agreed to pay $132 million to settle a U.S. class-action suit accusing them of manipulating the Libor benchmark interest rate, Reuters reported, citing a U.S. court filing. Separately, HSBC named retail and wealth-management business head John Flint as its new chief executive to succeed Stuart Gulliver, who is retiring.

Investors in China and Hong Kong appeared to be waiting for the outcome of China’s 19th Party Congress, to be held in Beijing next week, where the top leaders will be selected for the next five years. China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite Index has risen just 1.3% despite the People’s Bank of China’s Sept. 30 decision to selectively cut reserve requirements for certain lenders. The move was seen by analysts as positive for the market. The Hang Seng Index jumped 3.3% last week, when mainland markets were closed for the National Day holiday.

The calm in Hong Kong equities is likely to continue until the Party Congress, said Vicks Poon, head of investment advisory at Fubon Bank (Hong Kong). “The market is more sensitive to negative news than positive news at this level, and it is reasonable for investors to take some profit in overheating sectors.”

The Hang Seng Index is up 29% so far this year and remains one of Asia’s best performing equity benchmarks, spurred by gains in global equities and robust inflows from mainland investors.

U.S. indexes edged away from record highs overnight, as JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup fell despite reporting better-than-expected third-quarter earnings. The Nikkei Asia300 Index edged 0.1% higher.

In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite edged 0.2% higher. Data released on Friday showed China’s imports for September rose at a faster-than-expected 18.7% in dollar-denominated terms. Exports increased 8.1%, missing the 8.8% rate that analysts polled by Reuters were expecting.

Liquid-crystal display maker TCL rose 1.4% in Shenzhen after reporting a 9.4% increase in LCD television sales between July and September, even as its telecommunication-equipment sales fell 33%.

CSPC Pharmaceutical Group slipped 0.6% in Hong Kong. The company said it raised HK$2.35 billion ($301 million) from a placement of 189 million shares on Thursday at HK$12.44 apiece, a 6% discount to Wednesday’s closing price. Trading in the shares was suspended on Thursday, pending the placement.

Tsingtao Brewery rose 4.8% after Japan’s Asahi Group Holdings said it is considering selling some or all of its 19.99% stake in the company. Its competitor China Resources Beer Holdings edged 0.7% lower.

Railway-transportation equipment maker CRRC advanced 3.2%. The company plans to halve its freight-car manufacturing capacity as part of a restructuring program, Caixin Global reported, citing a source at CRRC, who declined to be identified.

China Overseas Land & Investment shed 0.6%. The property developer reported a 51.7% drop in contracted sales for September, but it said sales for the first nine months of the year increased 7% from the year-earlier period.

Future Land Development Holdings edged 0.5% lower despite reporting a 55% increase in sales for September.

Dongfeng Motor Group advanced 0.4% after saying sales volume for September rose 5.6% from the year-earlier period.

- By Amy Lam and Carrie Chen;; +852 3960 5102
- Edited By Suzannah Benjamin
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