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Soft Start Expected For Hong Kong Stock Market

The Hong Kong stock market on Thursday halted the three-day winning streak in which it had soared more than 600 points or 2.5 percent. The Hang Seng Index now sits just above the 24,280-point plateau and it's expected to open in the red again on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is soft, with profit taking expected following recent gains. The European and U.S. markets were down and the Asian bourses figure to open in similar fashion.

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

For the day, the index fell 119.92 points or 0.49 percent to finish at 24,280.03 after trading between 24,208.16 and 24,528.91.

Among the actives, China Mobile surged 3.22 percent, while AAC technologies plummeted 2.51 percent, Hong Kong &China Gas plunged 2.30 percent, Galaxy Entertainment tanked 2.22 percent, Sands China tumbled 2.08 percent, WH Group retreated 1.63 percent, CSPC Pharmaceutical declined 1.57 percent, Tencent Holdings surrendered 1.50 percent, China Mengniu Dairy skidded 1.21 percent, New World Development dropped 1.11 percent, CNOOC sank 1.09 percent, China Life Insurance shed 0.92 percent, China Petroleum and Chemical (Sinopec) lost 0.81 percent, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China fell 0.78 percent, BOC Hong Kong slid 0.20 percent, Ping An Insurance was down 0.19 percent, CITIC eased 0.13 percent, AIA Group rose 0.07 percent and China Resources Land was unchanged.

The lead from Wall Street is soft as stocks showed a lack of direction on Thursday before finally slipping firmly into negative territory.

The Dow shed 101.78 points or 0.41 percent to finish at 24,474.12, while the NASDAQ sank 90.90 points or 0.97 percent to 9.284.88 and the S&P 55 fell 23.10 points or 0.78 percent to end at 2,948.51.

The weakness on Wall Street was partly due to profit taking, as some traders cashed in on the strong gains posted on Monday and Wednesday.

Traders were also reacting to a Labor Department report showing initial jobless claims pulled back further off their record high but remain at an elevated level.

Also, the National Association of Realtors released a report showing another steep drop in U.S. existing home sales in April.

Crude oil prices moved up Thursday, extending recent gains amid continued optimism about a pickup in energy demand and falling supply levels in the market. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures rose $0.43 or 1.3 percent at $33.92 a barrel.

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