Hong Kong Shares Ended At A Nearly Three-Week Low

Hong Kong shares ended at a nearly three-week low Tuesday because of concerns about more aftershocks and explosions at nuclear power plants in Japan after two blasts rocked reactors 250 kilometers north of Tokyo.

The blue-chip Hang Seng Index fell 667.63 points, or 2.9%, to 22,678.25, its lowest closing level since it ended at 22,601 on Feb. 24, tracking declines in regional markets amid concerns about radiation leaks following explosions at two reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant early Tuesday. The index traded between 22,253.47 and 23,110.71.

Market volume totaled HK$109.26 billion, up from HK$65.10 billion Monday.

The HSI fell as much as 1,092 points, or 4.7%, to 22,253.47 earlier in the day, an intraday low for the year.

Chinese insurer Ping An, one of the biggest decliners, dropped 6.1% to HK$76.70. Contributing to its fall was the company’s plan to sell a 3.44% stake in itself to a firm controlled by Hong Kong tycoon Cheng Yu-tung for HK$19.45 billion (US$2.50 billion). China Life was down 3.3% to HK$29.05.

Index heavyweight China Mobile fell 2.8% to HK$72.25, and HSBC ended 2.4% lower at HK$81.05.

Shipping firms and airlines declined as many flights and shipments to Japan were cancelled or postponed. Cosco Pacific dropped 5.0% to HK$14.44 and Cathay Pacific fell 2.8% to HK$18.26.

Many property firms fell amid deepening concerns the ultra-low mortgage rate environment in Hong Kong is likely to end as several banks raised their Hibor-based mortgage rates recently.

Hang Lung Properties fell 6.3% to HK$30.65, Wharf Holdings was down 3.9% to HK$49.80, and Sino Land ended 3.8% lower at HK$13.12. ( source Dow Jones News Wire)


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