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Slightly Soft Start See For Hong Kong Shares

The Hong Kong stock market ticked higher again on Thursday, one session after it had ended the two-day winning streak in which it had advanced almost 700 points or 2.5 percent. The Hang Seng Index now rests just above the 28,850-point plateau although it may hand back those gains on Friday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is flat with a touch of weakness on global trade concerns. The European markets were slightly higher and the U.S. bourses were mixed and little changed and the Asian markets are expected to follow the latter lead.

The Hang Seng finished slightly higher on Thursday as gains from the oil companies were limited by mixed performances from the insurance companies and property stocks.

For the day, the index added 43.94 points or 0.15 percent to finish at 28,851.39 after trading between 28,696.31 and 28,932.47.

Among the actives, CNOOC surged 3.77 percent, while AAC Technologies plummeted 3.21 percent, CSPC Pharmaceutical plunged 2.40 percent, Hengan International soared 2.37 percent, WH Group tumbled 1.84 percent, Ping An Insurance spiked 1.61 percent, China Resources Land skidded 1.46 percent, Sands China retreated 1.33 percent, China Mobile jumped 1.30 percent, China Mengniu Dairy climbed 1.02 percent, China Life Insurance declined 0.94 percent, New World Development advanced 0.64 percent, Galaxy Entertainment dropped 0.58 percent, BOC Hong Kong collected 0.47 percent, Tencent Holdings shed 0.22 percent, CITIC lost 0.17 percent, China Petroleum and Chemical (Sinopec) added 0.15 percent, Hong Kong & China Gas rose 0.11 percent, AIA Group was up 0.06 percent and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China was unchanged.

The lead from Wall Street offers little clarity as stocks showed a lack or direction on Thursday, bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line before ending the session mixed.

The Dow added 7.05 points or 0.03 percent to 25,709, while the NASDAQ fell 12.50 points or 0.16 percent to 7,630.91 and the S&P 500 lost 2.44 points or 0.09 percent to 2,808.48.

The choppy trading on Wall Street followed uncertainty about Brexit, with members of parliament voting in favor of delaying Brexit after they rejected the idea of leaving the European Union without a deal.

Renewed concerns about a potential trade deal between the U.S. and China weighed on the markets after reports said a meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping has been pushed back.

On the U.S. economic front, the Commerce Department reported a substantial pullback in new home sales in January. A separate report from the Labor Department showed U.S. import and export prices both rose more than anticipated in February.

Crude oil prices edged higher Thursday, extending gains to a fourth successive session, on data that showed a drop in U.S. crude inventories last week. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for April ended up $0.35 or 0.6 percent at $58.61 a barrel, a fresh high since mid-November.

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