The winning streak finally came to an end for the Hong Kong stock market, after it collected almost 2,900 points or 20 percent on its way to a fresh seven-month closing high. The Hang Seng Index is holding on to support at the 17,000-point plateau, but now analysts predict that the market will fall well through that level at the opening of trade on Tuesday.
The Asian markets draw negativity from the global forecast as many of the regional markets are expected to see continued profit taking after strong rallies last week. The financials may see some selling pressure after soaring last week, while the technology issues may provide a measure of support. The European markets ended sharply lower, as did the U.S. bourses, and the Asian markets are also tipped to head into the red.
The Hang Seng finished sharply lower on Monday, thanks to profit taking following last week's winning streak. Financials and properties ended sharply lower, as did other stocks from mainland China.
For the day, the index plummeted 301.92 points or 1.74 percent to close at 17,087.95 after trading between 17,685.64 and 17,032.44 on turnover of 92.13 billion Hong Kong dollars.
Among the decliners, China Mobile dropped 1.2 percent, while Yue Yuen plunged 7.2 percent, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China slid 1.9 percent, Bank of China lost 2.37 percent, Bank of Construction fell 6.7 percent, Henderson Land lost 5.2 percent, Cheung Kong was down 1.8 percent, New World Development lost 2.1 percent and Bank of Communications dropped 0.4 percent.
Finishing higher, HSBC Holdings gained 0.3 percent and China Citic Bank rose 3.7 percent.
The lead from Wall Street is weak as stocks moved mostly lower during trading on Monday after turning in a strong performance last week. The major averages all closed firmly in negative territory, although the tech-heavy NASDAQ posted a relatively modest loss.
The weakness in the markets was largely due to profit taking, with traders cashing in on the market's recent gains amid a lack of economic data and limited corporate news. Uncertainty about the outlook for the markets inspired some of the profit taking, with some traders questioning whether stocks can extend their recent upward move amid expectations of a lack of significant catalysts in the near future.
Banking stocks helped to lead the way lower after U.S. Bancorp (USB), BB&T (BBT), and Capital One (COF) all revealed plans to sell common stock in order to raise proceeds to repay funds received under the government's financial bailout program.
Some negative sentiment was also generated by news that billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) reported a first quarter net loss of $1.53 billion compared to a year-ago profit of $940 million. Berkshire Hathaway's results were hurt by a drop in revenues as well as huge investment and derivative losses primarily on write-downs on investments in ConocoPhillips (COP).
In other news, President Barack Obama spoke earlier in the day, saying that a meeting with leading health care groups resulted in a pledge to reduce health care costs by $2 trillion over the next decade. The president said that the groups have voluntarily come together to make an unprecedented commitment to cut the rate of growth of national health care spending by 1.5 percentage points each year over the next ten years. Obama also urged Congress to work to reform health care by the end of the year, stressing that reform went beyond reducing costs.
While the major averages all finished the day in the red, the NASDAQ closed down only 7.76 points or 0.5 percent at 1,731.24. Meanwhile, the Dow fell 155.88 points or 1.8 percent to 8,418.77 and the S&P 500 closed down 19.99 points or 2.2 percent at 909.24.
In economic news, China will on Tuesday provide March data for urban fixed asset investment, imports, exports and trade balance. FAI is expected to add 29.1 percent on year after the 28.6 percent annual expansion in March. Imports are projected to fall 22.4 percent on year after easing 25.1 percent in the previous month. Exports are forecast to drop an annual 15.3 percent after falling 17.1 percent a month earlier. The trade balance is foreseen at $20.3 billion, up from the $18.56 billion surplus in the previous month.
Also, consumer prices in China were down 1.5 percent on year in April, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday, versus expectations for a 1.4 percent annual decline after the 1.2 percent fall in March and the 1.6 percent contraction in February. Food prices were down 1.3 percent on year, while non-food prices fell an annual 1.5 percent.
The bureau also said that producer prices declined 6.6 percent on year in April, more than expectations for a 6.3 percent contraction after the 6 percent annual fall in March and the 4.5 percent decline in February.
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