Hong Kong Stocks Gain, Pound Loses Ground

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2019-03-14 HKT 17:22

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  • The HSI closed with some gains after a day of volatile trading. File photo: RTHK

    The HSI closed with some gains after a day of volatile trading. File photo: RTHK

Hong Kong stocks closed slightly higher on Thursday as a positive lead from Wall Street and bargain-buying was offset by Chinese data reinforcing worries about the country's economy.

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong edged up 0.2 percent, to close at 28,851.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index sank 1.2 percent, to 2,990 after figures showed factory output grew slower than forecast in the first two months of the year, while retail sales and investment were broadly in line with expectations.

The Shenzhen Composite Index lost 2.3 percent, down at 1,618.

The "data means the economy will take a longer time to bottom out as industrial production and consumption are still under pressure despite the rebound in investment", Liu Peiqian, Asia strategist at Natwest Markets, told Bloomberg News.

Traders will be keeping a close eye on closing remarks at the annual National People's Congress on Friday for an idea about leaders' plans.

Elsewhere, Tokyo shed earlier gains to end flat while Taipei and Manila closed in the red, though Sydney, Seoul, Singapore and Wellington were in positive territory.

The pound retreated from nine-month highs in Asia on Brexit uncertainty. It was trading at HK$10.42 and US$1.3277 on Thursday, down from US$1.3339 overnight.

"The Brexit soap opera continued with ... parliament voting, as expected, against leaving the European Union without a deal," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda. "Sterling inevitably rose overnight as traders piled into the hope-vs-reality trade."

But he added: "Being irrationally exuberant on the pound could be a dangerous trade at these lofty levels in the short-term. (AFP)