Hong Kong stocks cap winning month as China slowdown fuels more easing bets while Credit Suisse upgrades market

  • Manufacturing data indicates the Chinese economy loses further traction this month, fuelling policy easing bets
  • Credit Suisse last week upgraded China, citing policy easing versus tightening bias elsewhere, and valuation appeal

Hong Kong stocks rose by the most in a week to cap a winning month as signs of slowdown in Chinese manufacturing this month fuelled hopes for further policy easing while equity strategists turned more upbeat on the market.

The Hang Seng Index advanced 1.1 per cent to 23,802.26 at the close of Monday trading, after sliding on Friday by the most in five months. The city’s Tech Index surged 2.4 per cent, its biggest gain in a week, as Alibaba Group Holding led gains among industry peers.

Alibaba, the owner of this newspaper, climbed 3.6 per cent to HK$114 while JD.com jumped 5.1 per cent and Meituan appreciated 5.6 per cent. NetEase rose 4.1 per cent and Tencent advanced 2.6 per cent.

A government report on Sunday showed the Purchasing Managers’ Index dropped to 50.1 in January from 50.3 in December. The non-manufacturing gauge, which measures activity in construction and services, fell to 51.1 from 52.7.

“We expect China to show more determination in stabilising” the economy after the Lunar New Year, said CMB International’s research team in a note published on Monday. It sees more liquidity and credit supply and fiscal support, and a friendlier policy towards the private sector, including the internet industry.

China has injected more liquidity into the system and eased borrowing costs over the past two months as the economy lost momentum since the middle of 2021. It has pledged to stabilise growth as a key policy aim for 2022.

Credit Suisse last week upgraded China to overweight against global benchmarks, and to market-weight in its Asia-Pacific strategy as the market slipped into bear territory, citing policy-easing impetus and valuation appeal, among others. The Swiss firm had downgraded the market in November 2020 and February 2021.

The Hang Seng Index has gained 1.7 per cent this month, the slowest start to a year since 2020 when it slumped 6.3 per cent. The benchmark ended the Year of the Ox lower by 22 per cent, its worst Ox performance since 1997 with 33 per cent slump.

The local market will pause for Lunar New Year until February 3. Those mainland China, and the two-way Stock Connect trading link, will reopen on February 7.

Galaxy Entertainment fell 2.2 per cent, while Sands China slipped 0.7 per cent. Macau police arrest two men related to an illegal cross-border gambling and money-laundering syndicate linked to former “junket king” Alvin Chau Cheok-wa.

One of them was Levo Chan Weng-lin, chairman of junket operator Tak Chun Group and chief executive of Macau Legend Development, according to an exchange filing on Monday. Macau Legend fell as much as 30 per cent in Hong Kong.

Elsewhere, China Evergrande gained 1.2 per cent to reverse an earlier slide of 4.9 per cent. US distressed-debt investor Oaktree Capital seized its land in Hong Kong to recover a US$520 million loan to the Chinese developer.

Fantasia Holdings Group gained 1.6 per cent after the Chinese developer sold a 41 per cent stake in a company that owns a plot of land in Yubei District of Chongqing to the Guangdong municipal government firm for 200 million yuan (US$31.4 million) including debt to ease its cash crunch.

Author: Cheryl Heng, SCMP

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