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Hong Kong stocks drop under swine flu threat
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Hong Kong's stock market continued to go down on Tuesday under the threat of swine flu, with blue-chip HSBC leading the decline.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index dropped 285.31 points, or 1.92 percent to close at 14,555.11 on Tuesday. Market turnover went upward to 56.24 billion HK dollars (about 7.26 billion U.S. dollars) from Monday's 53.01 billion Hong Kong dollars.

Analysts said the index is likely to consolidate further in the near term as financial woes in the U.S. are far from over and swine flu could hinder the global economic recovery.

HSBC fell after sources said U.S. regulators told Bank of America and Citigroup they may need to raise billions of dollars in additional capital, based on the early results of the government's stress tests of lenders.

HSBC dropped 2.5 percent to 50.45 HK dollars (about 6.51 U.S. dollars), contributing 69.19 points to the benchmark index's decline.

Fears over the spread of swine flu further weighed on investor sentiment. Airline operator Cathay Pacific fell 1 percent to 8.34 HK dollars, extending its 8.0 percent fall on Monday, on concerns of weakened travel demand because of swine flu.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China bucked the market trend. It rose 2.5 percent to 4.12 HK dollars as stake sell-downs by strategic investors removed an overhang on the stock.

Allianz and American Express sold half the shares they own in ICBC in a private placement Tuesday, raising a total of 1.91 billion U.S. dollars.

(Xinhua News Agency April 28, 2009)

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