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Slightly Soft Start Seen For Hong Kong Bourse

The Hong Kong stock market bounced higher again on Friday, one session after had ended the two-day winning streak in which it had advanced almost 180 points or 0.6 percent. The Hang Seng Index now rests just above the 27,350-point plateau although it's likely to be stuck in neutral on Monday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is mixed and flat amid a lack of catalysts, although sliding crude oil prices may weigh. The European markets were slightly higher and the U.S. markets were mostly lower - and the Asian markets are tipped to follow the latter lead.

The Hang Seng finished modestly higher on Friday following gains from the financials, casinos and insurance companies.

For the day, the index advanced 265.09 points or 0.98 percent to finish at 27,352.69 after trading between 27,074.54 and 27,366.45.

Among the actives, WH Group surged 3.05 percent, while Hong Kong & China Gas soared 2.18 percent, AIA Group spiked 1.89 percent, CSPC Pharmaceutical accelerated 1.43 percent, Galaxy Entertainment jumped 1.31 percent, Sands China and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China both climbed 1.30 percent, BOC Hong Kong and China Petroleum and Chemical (Sinopec) both collected 1.23 percent, CITIC advanced 1.00 percent, Sino Land sank 0.82 percent, China Life Insurance added 0.51 percent, Ping An Insurance gained 0.48 percent, China Mobile rose 0.22 percent, Tencent Holdings was up 0.06 percent and CNOOC, New World Development and Wharf Real Estate were unchanged.

The lead from Wall Street offers little clarity as stocks showed a lack of direction on Friday, bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line before closing mixed.

The Dow added 37.07 points or 0.14 percent to 27,219.52, while the NASDAQ fell 17.75 points or 0.22 percent and the S&P 500 lost 2.18 points or 0.07 percent to 3,007.39. For the week, the Dow gained 1.6 percent, the NASDAQ rose 0.9 percent and the S&P was up 1 percent.

The choppy trading on Wall Street came as the major averages encountered some resistance as they climbed back within striking distance of the record highs set in July.

Signs of easing trade tensions between the U.S. and China and upbeat economic data generated some positive sentiment, but traders seemed wary amid lingering uncertainty.

In economic news, the Commerce Department said U.S. retail sales rose more than expected in August, while the University of Michigan noted that U.S. consumer sentiment rebounded more than expected in September.

Crude oil prices edged lower on Friday, extending losses to a fourth straight session as traders feared a likely drop in energy demand and excess supply in the market. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for October ended down $0.24 or 0.4 percent at $54.85 a barrel.

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