Global stocks mixed as HK protests expand

AP and AFP

KUALA LUMPUR/HONG KONG–Asian stock markets were mixed Monday as pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and concern about China’s economy offset good U.S. economic news.

Paris’s CAC-40 opened down 0.3 percent at 4,382.29 points and Germany’s Dax was off 0.1 percent at 9,476.21. Wall Street looked set for a day of declines, with futures for the Dow Jones industrial average and broader Standard & Poor’s 500 both down 0.3 percent in pre-market trading. On Friday, the DJ and the Nasdaq composite rose 1 percent and the S&P added 0.9 percent.

China reported a 0.6 percent fall in industrial company profits in August, indicating economic growth might be declining further. Despite improved September manufacturing data, analysts said declining industrial production, lower property prices, weaker imports and pressure on factory prices are pointing to softening economic conditions.

“Concerns over the Chinese economy and protests in Hong Kong are likely to keep investors relatively cautious despite Friday’s rebound in U.S. stocks,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Australia, in a commentary.

Asian markets were mixed Monday, with Hong Kong tumbling more than two percent at one point after a weekend of unrest as pro-democracy demonstrations led to the closure of parts of the city. The stand-off, the worst since the handover in 1997, saw police fire tear gas into crowds of thousands of protesters on Sunday and has led to the closure of several businesses, bank branches and schools. Protest leaders have vowed not to back down until Beijing gives in to their demands for full universal suffrage. Hong Kong slumped 1.90 percent, or 449.20 points, to 23,229.21, recovering somewhat after losing 2.31 percent during intraday trade. The city’s banking giants took a heavy hit, with HSBC ending down 1.77 percent, Hang Seng Bank 2.42 percent lower and Standard Chartered down 2.54 percent. The index was already on a downtrend owing to concerns about the Chinese economy following a string of weak indicators recently. It has lost 6.5 percent since hitting its 2014 high at the start of the month.