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HK's stock market operator reports 17% drop in profits
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Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEx), the only stock exchange operator in the city, reported on Wednesday a 17-percent decline in net profits in the year of 2008, better than market expectations.

HKEx said in a statement that its net profit for 2008 fell to 5.13 billion HK dollars (662 million US dollars), from 6.17 billion HK dollars in 2007.

The market had expected HKEx's profits to drop from 18 pct to 20 pct.

The profit drop was mainly attributed to turnover slump and rising operation expenses, said Paul Chow, HKEx chief executive, at a press conference here.

Hong Kong stock market suffered a significant downturn in 2008 under the global financial crisis, with the total market capitalization down 50 percent from 2007.

Single-day turnover in the securities market had its highest level of the year at 156.6 billion HK dollars on Jan. 23, 2008 and its lowest level at 22.0 billion HK dollars on Dec. 29, 2008.

Total securities market turnover in 2008 was 17,652.8 billion HK dollars, a decrease of 19 percent compared with the year 2007.

The Hang Seng Index (HSI) declined from its highest level of the year at 27,616 points on Jan. 9, 2008 to close the year at 14, 387 points, 48 percent lower than the previous year's closing.

Chow said that despite challenges ahead, HKEx will emerge stronger in the future as it has solid fundamentals and strong long-term growth potential.

Encouraged by the better-than-expected annual results, share prices of HKEx jumped 6.62 percent to close at 59.6 HK dollars.

(Xinhua News Agency March 4, 2009)

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