Hong Kong stock market tracked overnight gains in the United States market to open higher Wednesday but slumped to end in negative ground.
The benchmark Hang Seng Index opened up 313.35 points, or 1.29 percent, at 24,605.15 but lost more than it had gained to finish morning trading at 23,918.72, down 373.08, or 1.54 percent, and widened its losses in the afternoon to close at 23,653.69, down 638.11 points, or 2.63 percent.
The market's key barometer fluctuated between 24,631.59 and 23, 586.37 on a turnover of 105.08 billion HK dollars (13.47 billion U. S. dollars), higher than Tuesday's 92.63 billion HK dollars (11.88 billion U.S. dollars).
Analysts attributed the loss to regional falls, including on the mainland's Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges, as well as an 11.45 billion U.S. dollar quarterly loss recorded by UBS.
The market had already absorbed the support from hopes for a rate cut by the Federal Reserve, analysts said, adding that they expected the market to remain volatile in the near future as concerns over the U.S. sub-prime mortgage continue to linger over the markets.
Morgan Stanley, however, reportedly upgraded its view on the Hong Kong market from cautious to in-line on strong fundamentals, while Citigroup said the economy in China's southern administrative region may have reached a turning point.
The finance stocks on Wednesday suffered the most among the four major stock categories, losing 1,048.36 points, or 3.08 percent, to close at 33,029.26, with the heavy-weighted blue chip HSBC Holdings down 0.5 HK dollars, or 0.43 percent, at 117.1 HK dollars while its local unit Hang Seng Bank went up 1.6 HK dollars or 1.04 percent to 155.9 HK dollars.
Hang Seng Bank was also one of the seven gainers out of the total 43 blue chip stocks on the Hong Kong market Wednesday.
Bank of China, one of the mainland's largest commercial banks by market capitalization, went down 0.06 HK dollars, or 1.8 percent, to close at 3.27 HK dollars, while BOC Hong Kong went down 0.52 HK dollars, or 2.67 percent, to close at 18.98 HK dollars.
Mainland insurer Ping An slumped 4 HK dollars, or 6.52 percent, to close at 57.4 HK dollars while China Life lost 2.3 HK dollars, or 7.35 percent, to close at 29 HK dollars.
The properties sub-index went down 805.12 points, or 2.32 percent, at 33,847.65 while the commerce and industry genre closed down 376.19 points, or 2.63 percent, at 13,914.82.
The utilities sub-index turned out the only gainer among the four major categories, up 284.96 points, or 0.69 percent, at 41, 555.43.
China Unicom, one of the mainland's major mobile carriers, went up 0.32 HK dollars, or 1.81 percent, at 18.02 HK dollars on news that it may record a profit that would no less than double the figure from the previous year.
Coal industry and winter clothes makers losing some of the ground it had gained in previous sessions on rising demand due to severe winter weather conditions across China recently.
China Shenhua, the mainland coal mining conglomerate, went down 1.3 HK dollars, or 3.06 percent, to close at 41.25 HK dollars.
(Xinhua News Agency January 31, 2008)