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Hong Kong Shares May Be Stuck In Neutral On Friday

The Hong Kong stock market has finished lower in two straight sessions, sliding almost 320 points or 1.1 percent along the way. The Hang Seng Index now rests just beneath the 29,840-point plateau and it's expected to remain in that neighborhood again on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is wait and see ahead of the start on earnings season; a tumble in crude oil prices provides a negative bias as the European and U.S. markets were mixed and roughly flat.

The Hang Seng finished sharply lower on Thursday following losses from the financials, properties and oil and insurance companies.

For the day, the index plunged 280.11 points or 0.93 percent to finish at 29,839.45 after trading between 29,783.67 and 30,184.61.

Among the actives, Galaxy Entertainment plummeted 3.89 percent to 3.89 percent, while China Life Insurance plunged 2.78 percent, China Mengniu Dairy tumbled 2.71 percent, Sands China and AAC Technology both skidded 2.42 percent, CNOOC retreated 2.28 percent, Sun Hung Kai Properties declined 2.01 percent, CITIC contracted 1.98 percent, Ping An Insurance dropped 1.82 percent, CSPC Pharmaceutical shed 1.73 percent, New World Development lost 1.63 percent, WH Group sank 1.15 percent, BOC Hong Kong fell 0.85 percent, China Mobile slid 0.71 percent, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China dipped 0.51 percent, Hong Kong & China Gas eased 0.42 percent and China Petroleum and Chemical (Sinopec) was down 0.32 percent.

The lead from Wall Street offers little clarity as stocks fluctuated on Thursday before ending mixed and little changed.

The Dow shed 14.11 points or 0.05 percent to end at 26,143.05, while the NASDAQ fell 16.88 points or 0.21 percent to 7,947.36 and the S&P 500 added 0.11 points to finish at 2,888.32.

Traders seemed reluctant to make significant moves ahead of the upcoming earnings season, as analysts expect results to be disappointing. Financial giants JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) are due to report results later today, marking the unofficial start of the reporting season.

Lingering uncertainty about the global economic outlook and a potential U.S.-China trade deal also kept traders on the sidelines.

In economic news, the Labor Department said first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell to their lowest level in nearly 50 years last week. Also, the Labor Department said a spike in energy prices contributed to a bigger than expected increase in U.S. producer prices in March.

Crude oil futures tumbled on Thursday on worries about a possible drop in demand for crude due to slowing global economy. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for May ended down $1.03 or 1.6 percent at $63.58 a barrel.

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