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Hong Kong: Shares fall on US sanctions threat, pandemic worries
[HONG KONG] Hong Kong shares slid on Friday after the US Senate passed a bill to sanction people and companies it considers helping China to restrict the territory's autonomy, with fresh global outbreaks of Covid-19 infections further souring the mood.
At midday, the Hang Seng index was down 0.6 per cent at 24,640.98. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index lost 0.4 per cent. The sub-index of the Hang Seng tracking energy shares fell 1.1 per cent, the IT sector dipped 1.6 per cent, the financial sector was 0.6 per cent lower and the property sector edged down 0.3 per cent.
Financial markets in mainland China were shut for the Dragon Boat Festival. Hong Kong trading paused for the same festival on Thursday, when global equities slipped on worries of further coronavirus outbreaks across the world. The US Senate passed legislation on Thursday that would sanction people or companies it deems in support of China's attempt to restrict Hong Kong's autonomy, pushing back against Beijing's new security law for the city.
Investors turned cautious as Chinese authorities could pass that security law during a June 28-30 meeting and amid mixed signals in global markets, Chief Securities said in a note on Friday. "(We) expect the Hang Seng Index not to have a clear direction today and hold on near its current level," they said.
The Hang Seng Index was set to end the week flat. Comments by US President Donald Trump that the trade deal with China remains "fully intact" helped offset losses later in the week.
The offshore yuan firmed less than 0.1 per cent to 7.0772 per US dollar. The Hong Kong dollar stayed close to its strengthening limit, trading at 7.7502.
Asian stocks followed Wall Street to trade higher. MSCI's Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.4 per cent.