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Hong Kong: Shares tick up; Huishan Dairy plummets

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[HONG KONG] Hong Kong stocks eked out marginal gains on Friday, with investors awaiting corporate earnings and a vote on a new US healthcare bill seen as President Donald Trump's first policy test.

The benchmark Hang Seng index added 0.1 per cent, to 24,358.27 points at the close. The main index has gained 0.2 per cent this week.

The Hong Kong China Enterprises Index lost 0.1 per cent, to 10,477.81 points.

Analysts worry that Trump's failure to pass the healthcare bill would cast doubt on his ability to deliver on the promises of tax cuts and infrastructure spending. "We all have the same assumption. If he meets some obstacle here, he would also meet obstacles elsewhere," said Alex Wong, a director at Ample Finance Group. "There are concerns in the Hong Kong market, but not big enough to be overly anxious." Mr Wong noted investor appetite for risky assets remains solid, but wild swings may be seen in some stocks as earning reports start to trickle in.

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Most sectors in Hong Kong lost ground, with resource stocks leading the declines.

Shares in China Huishan Dairy Holdings plunged 85 per cent on Friday, before trade was halted. It was not immediately clear what triggered the slide.

In December, US-based short-seller Muddy Waters questioned the firm's profits and said it had inflated spending on its cattle farms to artificially raise capital expenditure figures.

Index heavyweight CNOOC Ltd jumped more than 4 per cent, after the offshore oil and gas producer in China reported 637 million yuan (S$129.4 million) in annual net profit for 2016, above the estimate of a net loss polled by Reuters.