Hong Kong Shares Fall For 4th Session on China Policy Surprise

Markets Reuters

Hong Kong Stock Exchange (The Associated Press)

Hong Kong stocks suffered their fourth consecutive session of declines on Friday, as a robust post-Christmas rebound appears to be losing steam amid uncertainty over global growth and fresh signs of policy tightening in China.

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Sentiment was also depressed by a slump in commodity prices on the mainland, which knocked shares of resources firms traded in Hong Kong.

The benchmark Hang Seng index fell 0.2 percent, to 23,129.21, while the China Enterprises Index lost 0.1 percent, to 9,683.23 points.

For the week, Hang Seng dropped 1 percent, while HSCE lost 0.7 percent.

Linus Yip, strategist at First Shanghai Securities Ltd, said a series of controversial policies unveiled by U.S president Donald Trump raised fears of rising trade and political frictions, which is sapping investor confidence.

"There's a lot of unpredictability in the external environment, so investors are becoming risk-averse," Yip said, adding the market is under pressure to consolidate after rebounding strongly since late December.

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"In addition, tighter liquidity conditions won't help equities, as the U.S. will keep raising rates, while China is also deleveraging."

The People's Bank of China raised the interest rates on open market operations on Friday morning, reinforcing views that Beijing is opting for a "prudent and neutral" monetary policy stance this year.

Sector performance was mixed.

An index tracking raw materials fell nearly 1 percent, as commodity prices in China tumbled.

(Reporting by the Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)