The Hong Kong stock market has moved lower in two of three sessions since the end of the two-day winning streak in which it had climbed more than 610 points or 3 percent. The Hang Seng Index closed just above the 20,590-point plateau, and now analysts are forecasting a mild recovery at the opening of trade on Friday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is mixed with little movement and a slight downside bias - although the downside may be limited by bargain hunting following steep losses in the previous session. Mixed economic data from the United States adds to the uncertainty. The European markets were down and the U.S. bourses were mixed but little changed, and the Asian markets figure to split the difference.
The Hang Seng finished sharply lower on Thursday with broadly based losses, although the financial shares were hit particularly hard.
For the day, the index plummeted 250.99 points or 1.2 percent to finish at 20,590.92 after trading between 20,578.56 and 20,816.77 on volume of 52.67 billion Hong Kong dollars.
Among the decliners, China Unicom plunged 5.2 percent, while CNOOC shed 3.5 percent, Zhaojin Mining lost 1.9 percent, Zijin Mining fell 3.8 percent, Haitong Securities dropped 3.2 percent, Citic Securities retreated 2.5 percent and China Life was down 1.5 percent.
The lead from Wall Street provides little clarity as stocks staged a notable recovery attempt over the course of the trading day after moving to the downside in early trading on Thursday. The major averages climbed well off their worst levels of the day, eventually ending the session mixed.
Disappointing data contributed to the early weakness, with the Labor Department reporting that jobless claims came in above estimates in the week ended September 15. Jobless claims edged down to 382,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 385,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to drop to 373,000 from the 382,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Traders remained reluctant to make any significant moves amid continued uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets.
The afternoon recovery followed a report from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve showing that its index of regional manufacturing activity rose by more than expected. The Philly Fed said its diffusion index of current activity rose to a negative 1.9 in September from a negative 7.1 in August, although a negative reading still indicates a contraction in regional manufacturing activity.
Among individual stocks, shares of Adobe Systems (ADBE) moved higher even though the publishing and design software developer reported weaker than expected Q3 revenues and forecast fourth quarter results below estimates. Denbury Resources (DNR) also posted strong gain after announcing an agreement to sell its Bakken assets in North Dakota and Montana to Exxon Mobil (XOM) for $1.6 billion.
The major U.S. markets were mixed but little changed on Thursday as the Dow crept up 18.97 points or 0.1 percent to finish at 13,596.93, while the NASDAQ fell 6.66 points or 0.2 percent to end at 3,175.96 and the S&P 500 edged down 0.79 points or 0.1 percent to close at 1,460.26.
In economic news, Hong Kong's annual inflation climbed to 3.7 percent in August from 1.6 percent in July, the Census and Statistics Department said on Thursday, versus forecasts for 3.9 percent.
The underlying inflation, after adjusting for the effects of all the one-off relief measures, also was 3.7 percent in August, down from July's 4.2 percent. Sequentially, the seasonally adjusted consumer price index decreased 0.7 percent during the three months ended August, unchanged from the preceding quarter.
Also, manufacturing activity in China declined again in September, but at a slower pace compared to August, the flash survey results released by Markit Economics showed pm Thursday. The flash HSBC/Markit manufacturing purchasing managers' index rose to 47.8 in September from 47.6 in August. A PMI reading below 50 suggests contraction of the sector. The manufacturing output index dropped to a 10-month low of 47 in September from 48.2 in August.
by RTT Staff Writer
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