Long, Volatile Day Expected For Hang Seng Index

Off since Christmas Eve, the Hong Kong stock market has alternated between positive and negative finishes through the last four trading days since the end of the three-day slide in which it had stumbled almost 700 points or 2.7 percent. The Hang Seng Index now rests above the 25,650-point plateau - and it's expected to open lower on Thursday as it catches up on missed negative sentiment, although it may recover somewhat later in the day.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is broadly positive, thanks to a spike in crude oil prices and bargain hunting after heavy losses earlier this week. The European markets were mixed and the U.S. bourse were sharply higher - and the Asian markets are expected to follow the latter lead.

The Hang Seng finished modestly lower on Monday as losses from the casinos and life insurance companies were mitigated by support from the properties and a mixed picture from the oil and financial shares.

For the day, the index dropped 102.04 points or 0.40 percent to finish at the daily high of 25,651.38 after moving as low as 25,421.43.

Among the actives, Hengan International surged 1.88 percent, while China Mobile plummeted 1.79 percent, AAC Technologies plunged 1.64 percent, Tencent Holdings tumbled 1.46 percent, New World Development soared 1.33 percent, China Life Insurance skidded 1.32 percent, China Mengniu Dairy spiked 1.28 percent, AIA Group dropped 1.23 percent, Galaxy Entertainment retreated 1.04 percent, CITIC declined 0.98 percent, Sands China shed 0.90 percent, WH Group lost 0.83 percent, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China collected 0.73 percent, CSPC Pharmaceutical advanced 0.72 percent, Ping An Insurance fell 0.64 percent, Hong Kong & China Gas added 0.62 percent, China Petroleum and Chemical (Sinopec) slid 0.50 percent, BOC Hong Kong was down 0.34 percent, CNOOC gained 0.17 percent and China Resources Power Holdings and China Resources Land were unchanged.

Following the sell-off in recent sessions, stocks rebound sharply on Wednesday, extending gains heading into the close.

The Dow soared 1,086.25 points or 4.98 percent to 22,878.45, while the NASDAQ surged 361.44 points or 5.84 percent to 6,554.35 and the S&P 500 jumped 116.60 points or 4.96 percent to 2,467.70.

Bargain hunting contributed to the rally on Wall Street, with traders picking up stocks at reduced levels after recent weakness dragged the major averages to their lowest closing levels in over a year.

Positive sentiment may have been generated by members of President Donald Trump's administration continuing to downplay reports the president has privately discussed firing Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

Meanwhile, the partial government continues, with Trump stating the government will not reopen until Democrats agree to fund his controversial border wall.

Crude oil prices rose sharply amid thin deals on Wednesday, rebounding from an 18-month low on Christmas Eve. Crude oil futures for February surged $4.69 or 8.6 percent to $46.22 a barrel.

Closer to home, Hong Kong will release November figures for imports, exports and trade balance later today. In October, imports were worth HKD428.14 billion and exports were at HKD383.65 billion for a trade deficit of HKD44.49 billion.

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