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=MARKET BUZZ: Hong Kong’s HSI Flat Before US Inflation Data

HONG KONG (Mar 13) -- Hang Seng little changed at 31,601.45 as losses in insurers and crude producers offset rally in mainland banks. CNOOC ends three-day winning run, slipping 1.9% as Brent crude heads for second day of losses. China Petroleum & Chemical (Sinopec) drops 0.8% and PetroChina declines 0.4%. Ping An Insurance Group falls 0.5% after rising by over 6% in previous three sessions. Agricultural Bank of China rallies 5.4% after saying it plans raising up to 100 billion yuan ($15.8 billion) from private placement of Shanghai-listed A-shares. For year ended Dec. 31, lender reports 4.9% increase in profitability and decline in non-performing loan ratio. Morgan Stanley says in note that fall in NPL ratio and expansion in net interest margins in 4Q17 a “key positive”; adds private placement removes “overhang on capital constraint”. ABC earnings boosts other lenders. Bank of China adds 1.8%, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China and China Construction Bank climb 1.1% each. HSI’s quiet performance comes before release of US CPI data later today; trends in inflation closely watched to gauge extent of monetary tightening by Fed this year. Investment Strategy Institute vice president for stocks Jason Lee says that “HK equities lacked direction today” after index had rebounded nearly 1,800 from lows reached in early Feb. Turnover on main board at HK$110.2 billion ($14 billion). Shanghai Composite closes down 0.5%.

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- Edited by Nimesh Vora
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