Hong Kong Stocks Fall On Through-train Blues

Hong Kong stocks started Monday trade lower, and then headed lower still, as uncertainty about the start of the direct trading of Shanghai stocks hit some financial shares, while concern about the real-estate market dragged on the property sector. The Hang Seng Index sat 0.9% lower in early action, down from a 0.5% drop at the open, while the H-share index tracking mainland Chinese issues also pulled back by 0.9%. Over on the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.6%. Shares of bourse-operator Hong Kong Exchange & Clearing Ltd. retreated 4.8% as its Chief Executive Charles Li told the South China Morning Post that he has no idea when regulators will start the so-called "through train" scheme, allowing Shanghai-listed stocks to trade in Hong Kong and vice versa. The through train had been tipped to begin this week, with some reports saying the Hong Kong pro-democracy demonstrations were responsible for the delay. Also suffering among the financial names, Haitong Securities Co. fell 4.5%, Haitong International Securities Group Co. (formerly Taifook Securities) lost 6.7%, and China Everbright Ltd. gave up 4.2%. Among the banks, top-weighted Hang Seng Index component HSBC Holdings PLC had opened higher after passing its European stress test but was down 0.1% about half an hour into trade. Real-estate shares were mostly weaker after mainland China's largest developer -- China Vanke Co. -- posted less than a 3% gain in profit and flat revenue as it warned that the housing market remains oversupplied for now. Vanke stock lost 2.8%, while Sino Land Co. retreated 1%, and China Resources Land Ltd. was down 0.8%. Commodities prices weighed on some of the resource shares, as Jiangxi Copper Co. dropped 1.3%, and Zijin Mining Group Co. lost 1.1%, even as it posted a 10% gain in its nine-month net profit. Among the few gainers, China Mengniu Dairy Co. rose 1.1%, and Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. added 0.6% as the drop in crude-oil futures implied a cheaper jet-fuel bill.

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