Hong Kong stocks climb to 6-month high on Optimism.

Hong Kong stocks rose to a six-month high amid increasing optimism that China’s economic recovery from the damage inflicted by Covid-19 will gather pace and a crackdown on the technology industry is nearing an end.

The Hang Seng index climbed 0.5 per cent to 21,436.05 at the close on Wednesday, the highest level since July 8. The Hang Seng Tech Index retreated 0.3 per cent as smaller tech firms fell, while the Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.2 per cent.

Alibaba Group advanced 3.1 per cent to HK$112.90 and Tencent Holdings gained 3.2 per cent to HK$373.80. Search engine operator Baidu climbed 2.5 per cent to HK$133.80. Coal producer China Shenhua jumped 4.7 per cent to HK$24.35, and Ping an insurance added 3.5 per cent to HK$58.75.

In another sign of Beijing’s softening stance towards big tech platforms, the municipal government of Hangzhou, where Alibaba is based, signed an agreement on Tuesday to foster deeper strategic cooperation with the e-commerce giant. That followed a comment at the weekend by the head of the banking regulator that curbs on the industry are almost over.

There are signs that coronavirus infections may have already peaked after China called time on its rigid pandemic controls. Travel between cities and commuter numbers in big metropolises like Beijing and Shanghai are picking up, according to some high-frequency data.

In a sign that herd immunity might be within sight, the central province of Henan said on Friday that almost 90 per cent of its population had been infected. New Covid-19 cases may have peaked around New Year’s Day in most parts of the country, according to Vanho Securities.

“The cycle of the economic recovery may have already started,” said Liu Zhiyong, an analyst at the brokerage. “Infections may have peaked since the Covid outbreaks, and that signals that normal daily life and production is gradually getting back on track.”

Investors brushed aside an official report released on Tuesday by the central bank that showed China’s aggregate financing trailed the consensus estimates and growth in money supply slowed, betting that the fallout from the pandemic would be a one-off factor.

Stock traders will be keeping a close eye on December US inflation data due on Thursday. American consumer prices probably rose 6.5 per cent last month, slowing from a 7.1 per cent gain in November, according to a JPMorgan Chase forecast.

Elsewhere, Changzhou Shine Science and Technology, which makes welding helmets, was unchanged at 13 yuan on its first day of trading in Beijing.

Other major Asian markets rose on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 climbed 1 per cent per cent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.9 per cent, while South Korea’s Kospi edged up 0.3 per cent.
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