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Hong Kong: Stocks steady as investors await trade talks

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[SHANGHAI] Hong Kong stocks ended roughly flat on Monday as investors pinned their hopes for any signs of thaw in Sino-U.S. trade negotiations at the G20 summit later this week.

The Hang Seng index rose 0.1 per cent, to 28,513.00 points, while the China Enterprises Index gained 0.3 per cent, to 10,952.94 points.

Investors are nervously awaiting an expected meeting between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping later this week for any signs of a de-escalation in a trade war that is damaging the global economy and souring business confidence. The leaders will meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan.

China and the United States should be willing to make compromises in trade talks and not insist only on what each side wants, Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen said on Monday.

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US Vice President Mike Pence on Friday decided to call off a planned China speech, which also increased optimism ahead of trade talks. Pence had upset China with a fierce speech in October in which he laid out a litany of complaints ranging from state surveillance to human-rights abuses.

Still, most analysts doubt the two sides will come to any meaningful agreement as the tensions have extended beyond tariffs, particularly after Washington put Huawei, the world's biggest telecoms gear maker, on a blacklist that effectively bans U.S. firms from doing business with the company.

Around the region, MSCI's Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.19 per cent, while Japan's Nikkei index closed up 0.13 per cent.

The yuan was quoted at 6.8831 per US dollar at 0814 GMT, 0.23 per cent weaker than the previous close of 6.8675.

The top gainers among H-shares were China Gas Holdings up 5.92 per cent, followed by ANTA Sports Products, gaining 4.43 per cent, and Dongfeng Motor Group, up by 2.73 per cent.

The three biggest H-shares percentage decliners were China Communications Construction, which was down 1.34 per cent, China Telecom Corp, which fell 1.3 per cent, and China Merchants Bank, down by 1.2%.

At close, China's A-shares were trading at a premium of 27.4 per cent over Hong Kong-listed H-shares.

REUTERS