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Hong Kong shutdown weighs on property developer stocks, casinos

[HONG KONG] Property developers and casinos led Hong Kong stocks lower, after a record number of new coronavirus cases in the city prompted the government to extend social distancing measures.

The MSCI Hong Kong Index of stocks exposed to the local economy fell as much as 1.5 per cent, among Asia's biggest laggards. A gauge of property-related stocks dropped 1.5 per cent, led lower by a 4.2 per cent tumble for Wharf Real Estate Investment. A Bloomberg gauge tracking Macau casinos fell as much as 2.9 per cent, set for the worst day in a month.

"The scale is much bigger than before and the number of new cases keeps rising," said Steven Leung, executive director at UOB Kay Hian (Hong Kong). "It's a very big overhang for the local stocks."

The latest virus outbreak in the Asian financial hub has exceeded the magnitude of its previous waves, a sign the worst may be yet to come in the pandemic. The resurgence in Hong Kong will be another blow to its economy, which is already undergoing one of its most challenging periods since the handover to Chinese rule in 1997.

Social-distancing measures including restaurant restrictions and gym closures will remain in place for at least another week, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Sunday. Hong Kong's government will also require that masks be worn in indoor areas beyond public transport.

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