Hong Kong stocks jump as authorities rule out lockdown in Beijing, Federal Reserve assurance on rate increases

  • Tech giants including Alibaba and JD.com push Hang Seng Index higher
  • Beijing officials deny the city will be subjected to a lockdown despite imposition of tighter curbs in some districts

Hong Kong stocks rose by the most in two weeks as Beijing denied the city will be locked down amid a slight rise in coronavirus cases. Gains mirrored Asian markets after the Federal Reserve ruled out more aggressive interest rate increases.

The Hang Seng Index gained 2 per cent to 19,767.36 at the noon trading break, poised for a weekly loss of 1.2 per cent. The Tech Index climbed 3.9 per cent, while the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.6 per cent.

Alibaba Group Holding, the owner of this newspaper, advanced 2.8 per cent to HK$82.25. Meituan added 4.4 per cent to HK$163.90 and Tencent Holdings rose 3.2 per cent to HK$355. JD.com and NetEase strengthened at least 4 per cent.

Beijing officials denied on Wednesday the city will be subjected to a lockdown even as some districts saw tighter curbs such as suspension of ride-hailing services. The Chinese capital reported 50 new cases on Thursday, from 46 a day earlier.

Shanghai has also set a timeline of achieving “societal zero-Covid” by May 20, a watershed for the city after almost six weeks of lockdown measures.

“The improvement in Shanghai is good for manufacturing stocks,” said Paul Pong Po-lam, managing director of Pegasus Fund Managers. “Bad news for the short term has already been reflected. “[In the mainland], A-shares are bottoming and it is a good sign to stabilise Hong Kong stock markets, laying down the foundation for hopefully a better rebound.”

The Hang Seng Index saw 56 out of its 66 constituents advance on Friday. But despite the gains, the benchmark has fallen in five out of the past six weeks as it navigates turbulence between China’s Covid-induced economic slowdown and a global regime of tighter monetary policy. It has slumped 16 per cent this year with US$530 billion of market value wiped out.

Major Asian markets rose after Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell reaffirmed half-point rate rises in the next two meetings in June and July, pushing back against speculation of more aggressive increases. Japanese shares rallied 2.4 per cent, while Australian and South Korean stocks added at least 1.7 per cent.

Hong Kong’s monetary authority bought HK$2.87 billion on Friday morning, adding to its purchases made a day earlier. The de facto central bank on Thursday stepped in to buy the local currency for the first time since 2019 to confine its currency within its peg of HK$7.7500 and HK$7.8500 per US dollar. Such interventions have fanned concerns of draining liquidity and higher borrowing costs.

Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC) advanced 1.4 per cent to HK$15.98. The Chinese chip maker on Thursday reported a 182 per cent jump in first- quarter net profit to US$447.2 million. Its Shanghai-listed shares fell 2.4 per cent to 42.28 yuan.

Global index provider MSCI announced the results of its semi-annual index review on Thursday, which included 33 additions and 44 deletions to its MSCI China Index. The changes will be implemented after the market close of May 31.

Orient Overseas International and Pop Mart International rose 7.4 per cent and 3 per cent respectively, after their inclusion in the index. Stocks to be removed include Didi Global, Kingsoft Cloud Holdings, Logan Group and Weimob.

Luoyang Kechuang New Material, which manufactures and distributes refractory materials, soared 195 per cent on its trading debut in Beijing.

Author: Cheryl Heng, SCMP

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