Hang Seng slumps to 68-month closing low; hopes on Sino-U.S. talks lift A-shares – Reuters.com

The seal of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is seen at their headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

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  • Hang Seng -1.6% CSI300 +0.3%, SSEC +0.4%
  • China, U.S. regulators expected to reach consensus soon -source
  • Hang Seng Tech index turns around from nearly 9% drop
  • Hong Kong dollar, yuan weaken

SHANGHAI, March 11 (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slipped to its lowest close in over five-and-a-half years on Friday, but trimmed earlier losses as investors’ hopes rose for an agreement between Chinese and U.S. regulators over securities supervision.

Hong Kong-listed tech giants had led a broad slump in Chinese stocks early on Friday after the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) identified Chinese companies that will be delisted if they do not provide access to audit documents.

But by the end of the day, the Hang Seng Index (.HSI) narrowed a 3.9% drop to finish 1.6% lower – still its lowest close since July 6, 2016. The Hang Seng Tech Index (.HSTECH), down nearly 9% at one point, finished 4.28% down, at its lowest-ever close.

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In mainland markets, China’s CSI300 Index (.CSI300) closed 0.3% higher, reversing an earlier 2.7% drop. The Shanghai Composite index finished 0.4% higher.

The reversal onshore was sparked by renewed hopes for consultations between China and the U.S. on audit and regulatory cooperation. Those talks are moving “relatively smoothly”, and consensus is expected to be reached soon, sources told Reuters. read more

Earlier on Friday, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) said in a post on its official WeChat page that it has continued to communicate with U.S. counterparts and has made “positive progress”. read more

The CSRC’s statement came amid a concerted effort by major Chinese companies and state media this week to reassure investors the country’s economic and market fundamentals are strong, as the CSI300 has dropped to more than 20-month lows. read more

It also followed the SEC’s naming of five New York-listed Chinese stocks that could be delisted sparked a selloff in their shares.

The Nasdaq Golden Dragon China Index (.HXC) tumbled 10% on Thursday to its lowest level in nearly six years.

“Wall Street has always been skeptical toward Chinese companies, and it’s getting more so. And such worries are being taken into investors’ consideration,” said Michael Qian, a banker at Bundstone Capital Partners.

Companies on the SEC list led the slump on Friday. Yum China Holdings (9987.HK), Zai Lab , HUTCHMED (China) Ltd (0013.HK) and Beigene Ltd (6160.HK) falling between 11% and 17% before closing between 4.9% and 9.5% lower. In Shanghai, shares of ACM Research Shanghai Inc (688082.SS) were down as much as 10%, but closed 5.4% lower.

In response to the SEC statement, Yum China, which owns KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut restaurants in China, said it may have to delist from the New York stock exchange by 2024. read more

The SEC’s naming of the firms added to pressure on already shaky Chinese equity markets, reeling from factors including economic concerns, the Ukraine conflict and the announcement this week by Norway’s sovereign wealth fund that it was excluding Chinese sportswear maker Li Ning (2331.HK) over human rights concerns. read more

The fresh worries on Friday even weighed on Hong Kong’s currency amid heavy outflows from Hong Kong-listed shares, traders said. The Hong Kong dollar at one point slipped nearly 0.1% to 7.8296 per U.S. dollar, its weakest since Dec. 9, 2019.

China’s yuan was also softer, trading at 6.3255 per dollar and reflecting broad strength in the greenback following a strong U.S. inflation report.

Linus Yip, chief strategist at First Shanghai Group, said that although the SEC move was not totally unexpected, investors were interpreting it negatively given heightened geopolitical tensions.

“The atmosphere now is bad. We have Sino-U.S. frictions, the Ukraine crisis, prospects of rate hikes and more,” Yip said. “So it’s natural for investors to look on the dark side.”

However, he said oversold stocks that will be little-affected by the SEC rules, such as Tencent, would provide buying opportunities.

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Reporting by Jason Xue, Samuel Shen and Andrew Galbraith in Shanghai, and Donny Kwok in Hong Kong; Editing by Lincoln Feast, Bernard Orr, Kenneth Maxwell and Krishna Chandra Eluri

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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