March 16, 2020 / 9:12 AM / 18 days ago

Hong Kong stocks slump after bleak China data, Fed rescue efforts

* HK->Shanghai Connect daily quota used -9.4%, Shanghai->HK daily quota used 13.3%

* HSI -4.0%, HSCE -4.4%, CSI300 -4.3%

* FTSE China A50 -3.8%

SHANGHAI/HONG KONG, March 16 (Reuters) - Hong Kong stocks fell sharply on Monday as dire China data and a second emergency interest rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve in less than two weeks underscored just how much damage the coronavirus outbreak had already done to the global economy.

** The Hang Seng index fell 4.0%, to 23,063.57, while the China Enterprises Index lost 4.4%, to 9,227.60.

** Sell-off was across the board, with IT stocks leading the decline. The Hang Seng IT index tumbled 6.8%, with index heavyweight ZTE crashing 23.2% after reports of new U.S. bribery probe.

** The Fed and its global counterparts moved aggressively with sweeping emergency rate cuts and offers of cheap dollars in a bid to combat the pandemic’s impact.

** China’s factory production plunged at the sharpest pace in 30 years in the first two months of the year as the fast-spreading virus and strict containment measures severely disrupted the world’s second-largest economy.

** To help its virus-hit economy, China’s central bank cut the cash that banks must hold as reserves on Friday for the second time this year, releasing 550 billion yuan.

** Meanwhile, the central bank left borrowing cost on its medium-term loans unchanged on Monday.

** The Hong Kong Monetary Authority lowered its base rate charged through the overnight discount window to 0.86%.

** Mainland investors were not deterred as they continued to hunt for bargains, purchasing 7.5 billion yuan ($1.07 billion)worth of Hong Kong shares via the Stock Connect for the day.

** “We like Hong Kong, China more than other parts of the world. We have been reducing U.S. and raising China for quite some time, repositioning in the past few weeks,” said Alex Wong, director at Ample Finance Group. ($1 = 6.9983 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Luoyan Liu and Noah Sin; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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