Hong Kong, Shanghai shares end with deep losses

HONG KONG (AFP) – Hong Kong and Shanghai stocks took another battering yesterday, in line with a global sell-off that has wiped trillions off market valuations as investors fret over the economic impact of the coronavirus.

The Hang Seng Index fell 2.42 per cent, or 648.69 points, to end at 26,129.93 – losing more than four per cent since last Friday’s close.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index lost 3.71 per cent, or 111.02 points, to 2,880.30, while the Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China’s second exchange, dropped 4.93 per cent, or 93.39 points, to 1,801.75.

Both indexes plunged more than five per cent over the week.

The sharp drops were part of a wider rush to safety by investors, which has seen trillions wiped off the valuations of firms around the world in what is threatening to be the worst rout since the financial crisis more than a decade ago.

Yesterday’s bloodbath came after all three indexes on Wall Street lost more than four per cent as authorities in California said they were monitoring some 8,400 people for COVID-19 when officials confirmed a woman had contracted it without travelling to any of the outbreak-hit regions.

A man wearing a face mask walks past statues of bulls in Beijing. PHOTO: AP

The crisis has dealt a double-whammy to Hong Kong, which was slowly showing signs of recovering from a tortuous 2019 when it fell into recession owing to the China-United States (US) trade war and months of sometimes violent protests.

The year had started on a healthy note the two economic superpowers signed a trade pact to halt their painful tariffs row, while data out of China showed tentative signs of improvement.

No sector in Hong Kong was spared the sell-off, with firms linked to the travel industry reeling, while energy firms were hit by a sharp drop in oil prices as demand for the commodity is expected to be dented.

Chinese oil giant CNOOC shed 4.47 per cent to HKD10.68 and PetroChina was 4.43 per cent lower at HKD3.02.

Macau casino operators, who were forced to close by the government for two weeks, continued to suffer hefty selling as the gambling hub sees visitor numbers plunge. Wynn Macau retreated 2.85 percent to HKD15.70, while rival Galaxy Entertainment was two per cent lower at HKD51.45.

Airlines were also off, with Cathay Pacific down 1.96 per cent at HKD10.02, while real estate giant Sun Hung Kai Properties tanked 2.03 per cent to HKD110.80.

Market heavyweight Tencent lost 3.31 per cent to HKD386 and AAC Technologies plunged 6.59 per cent to HKD51.05.

In mainland China, Haitong Securities analyst Zhang Qi told AFP that future market trends will depend on the direction of the epidemic.

“Because China is a large economy and the country is doing an effective job in preventing and controlling the epidemic… plus a lot of companies are gradually resuming work and production, there’s no need to be too pessimistic,” Zhang said.

Medical shares rose, with Shanghai-listed Guangzhou Jet Bio-Filtration Co – which researches, develops and manufactures laboratory equipment – soared almost 20 per cent to close at CNY83.15.

Pharmaceutical research and development company Shenzhen Neptunus rose 8.06 per cent to CNY5.9.

Consumer spending and confidence has been hit during the outbreak, which has claimed nearly 2,800 lives in mainland China.