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Losses May Accelerate For Hong Kong Stock Market

The Hong Kong stock market has moved lower in two of three trading days since the end of the three-day winning streak in which it had advanced more than 620 points or 2.4 percent. The Hang Seng Index now rests just above the 25,450-point plateau and it's expected to open in the red again on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is soft on geopolitical concerns, interest rate fears and a drop in crude oil prices. The European and U.S. markets were down and the Asian bourses figure to follow suit.

The Hang Seng finished barely lower on Thursday as losses from the financials and oil and insurance companies were tempered by support from the properties and casinos.

For the day, the index eased 7.71 points or 0.03 percent to finish at 25,454.55 after trading between 25,261.72 and 25,674.66.

Among the actives, China Petroleum and Chemical (Sinopec) plummeted 4.27 percent, while CNOOC plunged 2.01 percent, Sino Land soared 1.47 percent, Sands China spiked 1.20 percent, CSPC Pharmaceutical jumped 1.12 percent, BOC Hong Kong tumbled 1.04 percent, WH Group climbed 1.04 percent, New World Development advanced 1.01 percent, Galaxy Entertainment perked 1.00 percent, Ping An Insurance skidded 0.82 percent, China Mengniu Dairy gathered 0.66 percent, AIA Group added 0.65 percent, China Mobile gained 0.58 percent, Hong Kong & China Gas collected 0.27 percent, China Life Insurance shed 0.24 percent, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China lost 0.19 percent and Tencent Holdings fell 0.14 percent.

The lead from Wall Street is broadly negative as stocks moved sharply lower on Thursday. The major averages attempted a recovery after seeing early weakness but saw a significant pullback as the day progressed.

The Dow shed 327.36 points or 1.27 percent to finish at 25,379.32, while the NASDAQ lost 157.56 points or 2.06 percent to 7,485.14 and the S&P fell 40.43 points or 1.44 percent to 2,768.78.

The sell-off on Wall Street came after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he will not attend an upcoming investment conference in Saudi Arabia - which continues to face considerable international pressure over the disappearance and apparent murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Lingering concerns about the outlook for interest rates also weighed on the markets as the Fed's forecasts point to one more rate hike before the end of this year - with more to follow in 2019.

In economic news, the Labor Department noted a drop in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended October 13. Also, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said manufacturing activity grew at a slower rate in October. And the Conference Board said its index of leading U.S. economic indicators increased as expected in September.

Crude oil futures settled at a five-week low on Thursday, extending the previous session's losses due to a sharp jump in U.S. crude inventories. U.S. West Texas Intermediate Crude futures for November delivery ended down $1.10 or 1.6 percent at $68.65 a barrel.

Closer to home, Hong Kong will provide unemployment figures for September later today, with forecasts pinning the jobless rate at 2.8 percent - unchanged from the August reading.

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