Hong Kong stocks fall sharply over persisting pessimism

2008-07-15 10:13:09 GMT       2008-07-15 18:13:09 (Beijing Time)       Xinhua English

HONG KONG, July 15 (Xinhua) -- Hong Kong stocks fell sharply to the lowest in four months on Tuesday as investors remained pessimistic despite the U.S. government's rescue plan for mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index plunged 370.42 points, or 1.68 percent, to open at the day's highest 21,644.04 and widened its losses afterwards following the steep drops of stock markets in the Chinese mainland.

The market lost as much as 937.22 points, or 4.26 percent, to the day's lowest 21,077.24 in the afternoon session before trimming the drops to 839.69 points, or 3.81 percent, to close at 21,174.77.

Turnover rose to 65.79 billion HK dollars (8.43 billion U.S. dollars) from Monday's 58.4 billion HK dollars (7.49 billion U.S. dollars).

All 43 components of the benchmark Hang Seng Index fell except garment producer and exporter Esprit Holdings.

Blue-chip heavyweight HSBC, which accounts for the largest weighting of the Hang Seng Index, lost 3.09 percent to 113 HK dollars, sinking the index by 100.35 points alone.

Heavily traded China Mobile, China's largest mobile phone operator and the market's largest stock measured by capitalization, fell 3.81 percent to 101 HK dollars, dragging down the index by 103.38 points alone.

Garment producer and exporter Esprit Holdings outshone the index by gaining 0.52 percent to 78 HK dollars. Jean producer Bauhaus International gained 3.88 percent to 1.34 HK dollars.

Energy companies all fell as oil prices held above 145 U.S. dollars a barrel in Asia trading. PetroChina, the country's largest oil producer, fell 3.79 percent to 9.66 HK dollars. Sinopec, Asia's largest refiner, dropped 3.7 percent to 7.02 HK dollars. China's largest offshore oil producer CNOOC went down 3.05 percent to 12.7 HK dollars.

All Hong Kong's property companies fell. Sun Hung Kai Properties, the largest house developer in Hong Kong, plunged 4.13percent to 109 HK dollars. Cheung Kong, one of the biggest housing companies controlled by tycoon Li Ka-shing, lost 3.18 percent to 103.7 HK dollars. Sino Land plummeted 6.27 percent to 14.36 HK dollars. New World Development dropped sharply by 6.54 percent to 14 HK dollars. Hang Lung lost 3.92 percent to 23.3 HK dollars. Henderson Land moved down 4.14 percent to 44.2 HK dollars.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited, the sole market operator, went down 7.08 percent to 105 HK dollars.

China Enterprise Index, or H-shares, which was composed of 43 companies registered in the Chinese mainland, plummeted 579.56 points, or 4.72 percent, to close at 11,687.32.

Chinese banks and insurers listed in Hong Kong were under huge selling orders. Heavily traded ICBC, China's largest lender, lost 4.33 percent to 5.3 HK dollars. China Life, the country's largest insurance company, plunged 5.26 percent to 27 HK dollars. Bank of China, the country's second largest bank, went down 4.29 percent to 3.35 HK dollars. China Construction Bank, the third largest bank in China, dropped 4.46 percent to 6.21 HK dollars. Ping An, China's second largest insurance company, plunged 7.11 percent to 48.35 HK dollars. Bank of Communications lost 4.59 percent to 9.15HK dollars. China Merchants Bank weakened 5.4 percent to 25.4 HK dollars. (7.8 HK dollars = 1 U.S. dollar)

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