ASIA MARKETS: Hong Kong Edges Ahead As Asian Markets Largely Pull Back

By Ese Erheriene Features Dow Jones Newswires

Nikkei slips after hitting 26-year-high; Australia stocks flat

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After a strong start to the week, global stock markets were broadly lower in Asia on Wednesday, though Hong Kong equities outperformed as strong gains in one of the city's biggest share listings this year drove buying interest.

Solid buying pushed several stock indexes, including those in Australia, Japan, and Hong Kong, to multiyear highs on Tuesday, but that was followed by a muted performance overnight on Wall Street.

"We expect some profit-taking today after yesterday's stellar run," said Shane Chanel, equities and derivatives adviser at ASR Wealth Advisers.

Still, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was up 0.4%, rising above 29,000 points at a 10-year intraday high, with shares of China Literature (0772.HK) nearly doubling on their first day of trading amid the global frenzy for technology stocks.

The Tencent Holdings unit, which operates an online library, saw immense interest its initial public offering (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tencent-unit-china-literature-skyrockets-90-in-hong-kong-ipo-2017-11-07), with investor orders for the retail side reaching about 625 times the amount of stock available. The company ultimately raised about $1.1 billion.

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China Literature's connection with Tencent also added to the offering's popularity, as the tech giant's stock more than doubled this year.

"Companies like Tencent are seen as unstoppable," said Joshua Crabb, head of Asian equities at Old Mutual Global Investors. Tencent shares (0700.HK) , which have logged five straight record closing highs, were off 0.4%.

Elsewhere, Japan's Nikkei Stock Average was down 0.3%, after the index jumped an additional 1.7% in the previous session to near-26-year highs. Currency headwinds weighed on stocks as the yen rebounded, with the U.S. dollar last easing to Yen113.75 from Yen114 in late New York trade.

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 fell 0.6% after Tuesday's dairy auction saw a 3.5% decline in the overall price index, with prices for whole-milk powder falling 5.5%. Among milk producers, a2 Milk (ATM.NZ) slumped 3.3% and Synlait Milk (SML.NZ) slumped 5.4%.

Westpac said the decline in milk-product prices in recent auctions, despite lower domestic production, suggests some softening of demand.

"We expect China's growth to slow next year as the government focuses on economic rebalancing, which is likely to crimp demand for a range of commodities," the bank said, adding that its forecast assumes dairy-auction prices would fall 12% between now and April.

Elsewhere, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was flat, after closing above 6,000 for the first time since 2008 in the previous session. Singapore's Straits Times Index fell 0.2%, Indonesia's JSX was down 0.2%, while Taiwan's Taiex edged 0.1% lower.

Meanwhile, South Korea's Kospi reversed early losses to rise 0.4%, driven by a 1.6% gain for Samsung Electronics (005930.SE) , while the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.4%.

In China, margin debts -- a proxy for investor risk appetite -- rebounded to a 22-month high of 1.01 trillion yuan ($152 billion) on Tuesday, reflecting stronger buying interest. Still, analysts say investors are cautious about the relatively tighter liquidity in the fourth quarter, as well as tightening of financial regulations.

Broadly in Asia, financial stocks took a hit on doubts about the future of a U.S. tax overhaul. Japan's Topix bank subindex was down 1%, while South Korea's Hana Financial (086790.SE) and Industrial Bank of Korea (024110.SE) slipped 0.9% and 0.3%, respectively.

In commodities, oil prices were down after a modest pullback Tuesday. Brent , the global benchmark, was off 0.2% at $63.56 a barrel, while Nymex futures were down 0.3% to trade at $57.02..

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 07, 2017 23:16 ET (04:16 GMT)