HONG KONG (AFP) – Hong Kong stocks ended 2014 on a high by adding 0.44 per cent Wednesday, helping the Hang Seng Index to eke out a small gain for the year.
The benchmark index ended up 103.94 points at 23,605.04 on turnover of HK$43.94 billion (US$5.67 billion). It was 1.28 per cent higher over the past 12 months.
The market endured a turbulent year, going from a nine per cent year-to date loss in March before swinging to a nine per cent gain for the year by September.
The gains were massively overshadowed by Shanghai, which surged almost 53 per cent over the year, as a series of weak economic data boosted hopes of monetary easing measures by the government.
The rally took off in November, when the People’s Bank of China unveiled a surprise interest rate cut.
A much-hyped link-up between the Hong Kong and Shanghai exchanges – which has the potential for almost $4 billion in cross-border trades – failed to garner the support that had been hoped for from either side.
There was also an initial tumble in response to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrations that jammed some of the city’s streets for several weeks from late September. But investors soon brushed those off.
Wednesday’s gains followed a 1.1 per cent fall Tuesday, as well as losses on Wall Street and in Europe on fears that Greece’s political crisis could reverberate across the eurozone.
On Wall Street Tuesday the Dow lost 0.31 per cent, the S&P 500 dropped 0.49 per cent and the Nasdaq slipped 0.61 per cent. London’s FTSE 100 sank 1.36 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 shed 1.22 per cent and the CAC 40 in Paris dropped 1.68 per cent.
Dealers in Hong Kong seemed unfazed by confirmation from HSBC that its index of China’s manufacturing activity had contracted in December.
The British banking giant’s final purchasing managers’ index for the month came in at 49.6, slightly up from a preliminary reading of 49.5 but still the lowest in seven months.
It also marked the first contraction since May’s 49.4. Readings above 50 indicate growth, while anything below points to shrinkage.
“Today’s data confirmed the further slowdown in the manufacturing sector towards year-end,” said Qu Hongbin, HSBC’s economist in Hong Kong.
Chinese state-owned firms China CNR Corp and CSR Corp surged on news they will unite into a single huge conglomerate to vie for rail contracts overseas.
CNR soared 45.17 per cent to HK$11.12 while CSR jumped 32.32 per cent to HK$10.44.
HSBC fell 0.13 per cent to HK$74.00, Ping An Insurance added 0.25 per cent to HK$79.10 and Sino Land gained 0.64 per cent to HK$12.52.
China Mobile was off 0.11 per cent at HK$90.50 and PetroChina increased 0.82 per cent to HK$8.60.