May 6, 2020 / 8:51 AM / 22 days ago

HK shares end higher as China's yuan fixing soothes some nerves

BEIJING/SHANGHAI, May 6 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares ended higher on Wednesday, as investors saw China’s yuan fixing offering some relief, amid a resurgence in Sino-U.S. trade tensions.

** At the close of trade, the Hang Seng index was up 268.82 points, or 1.13%, at 24,137.48. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index rose 1.13% to 9,807.76. ** The sub-index of the Hang Seng tracking energy shares rose 2.1%, while the IT sector rose 2.09%, the financial sector ended 0.84% higher and the property sector rose 0.95%.

** China’s central bank set the yuan at a broadly neutral midpoint, analysts said, helping take the focus off the exchange rate, a typically contentious point in Sino-U.S. ties. ** U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration have repeatedly taken aim at China, pinning the blame on it as the source of the pandemic and warned that it would be held to account.

** On Tuesday, he urged China to be transparent about the origins of the novel coronavirus that has killed more than a quarter of a million people worldwide since it started in Chinese city of Wuhan. ** H-shares have priced in fresh trade tensions between Washington and Beijing in previous trading days, and most investors assume no immediate measures will be taken amid ongoing epidemic and economic growth pressures in the United States, said Zhang Gang, analyst with China Central Securities.

** Mainland China investors are also waiting for more stimulus measures to materialize ahead of the annual parliament meeting, which is scheduled for the end of the month, Zhang added. ** China’s main Shanghai Composite index closed up 0.63% at 2,878.14 points on the first trading day since Thursday, erasing earlier losses on new stimulus hopes, while the blue-chip CSI300 index ended up 0.61%.

** As of May 5, China reported two new coronavirus cases and 20 new asymptomatic cases, data from the national health authority showed.

** Business activity in Hong Kong shrank further in April, a private sector survey showed on Wednesday, as the conronavirus pandemic weighed heavily on demand, output and business confidence.

** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.63%.

** The yuan was quoted at 7.0947 per U.S. dollar at 0823 GMT, 0.45% weaker than the previous close of 7.0629. (Reporting by Cheng Leng in Beijing, Luoyan Liu and Andrew Galbraith in Shanghai; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

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