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Hong Kong: Stocks slip on Fed minutes before Trump-Xi meeting

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[HONG KONG] Hong Kong stocks fell on Thursday in sympathy with Asia markets, as investors fretted about signs the Federal Reserve could scale back its massive stimulus this year amid frayed nerves ahead of a looming meeting between the US and Chinese presidents.

The benchmark Hang Seng index dropped 0.5 per cent at the close, to 24,273.72 points, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index lost 0.9 per cent, to 10,276.41 points.

Analysts say risk appetites shrank on news that most Fed policymakers think the central bank should take steps to begin trimming its king-sized balance sheet later this year as long as US economic data holds up.

Much of the attention was on President Donald Trump's first face-to-face meeting with China President Xi Jinping, with trade and security issues set to figure prominently. "As long as they don't have huge conflict, the meeting won't have much impact," said Alex Wong, Hong Kong-based director of Ample Finance Group.

Mr Wong also brushed aside the latest economic indicators about China. Activity in the service sector expanded at its weakest pace in six months in March, hurt by slower growth in new orders and intensifying cost pressures, a private survey showed. "Investors are generally optimistic towards mainland's consumption and real estate sectors," he said.

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Most sectors in Hong Kong retreated on Thursday, with losses led by telecommunication stocks. A relevant sub-index contracted about 1.3 per cent at the close.


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