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Lower Open Called For Hong Kong Stock Market

The Hong Kong stock market on Wednesday halted the three-day winning streak in which it had advanced more than 800 points or 3.2 percent. The Hang Seng Index now rests just beneath the 26,820-point plateau and it's looking at another soft start again on Thursday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is flat to lower, thanks to a decline in crude oil prices. The European markets were down and the U.S. markets were closed and the Asian bourses are tipped to open slightly lower on Thursday.

The Hang Seng finished sharply lower on Wednesday following losses from the oil companies, casinos and financials.

For the day, the index tumbled 440.76 points or 1.62 percent to finish at 26,819.68 after trading between 26,745.69 and 26,914.87.

Among the actives, CNOOC plummeted 3.76 percent, while AIA Group plunged 3.28 percent, Tencent Holdings tumbled 2.25 percent, China Resources Power Holdings surged 2.19 percent, CSPC Pharmaceutical skidded 2.18 percent, Sands China dropped 1.99 percent, Galaxy Entertainment retreated 1.89 percent, China Resources Land declined 1.82 percent, China Petroleum and Chemical (Sinopec) contracted 1.61 percent, BOC Hong Kong shed 1.59 percent, New World Development lost 1.48 percent, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China fell 1.22 percent, China Life Insurance eased 1.14 percent, China Mobile added 0.53 percent, Hong Kong & China Gas and Wharf Real Estate both slid 0.50 percent, Ping An Insurance was down 0.45 percent, China Mengniu Dairy eased 0.40 percent and WH Group was unchanged.

There is no lead from Wall Street as the major averages were closed Wednesday for the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush, who died Nov. 30.

In economic news, the Federal Reserve released its Beige Book and most of the twelve Fed districts reported that their economies expanded at a modest or moderate pace from mid-October through late November.

The release of the Beige Book comes as the Fed is widely expected to raise interest rates by a quarter point at its next monetary policy meeting later this month.

Crude oil futures failed to hold earlier gains and settled lower on Wednesday, with traders weighing the prospects of future demand. Crude oil futures for January ended down $0.36 or 0.7 percent at $52.89 a barrel.

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