By Laura He, MarketWatch
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Hong Kong stocks erased earlier losses and closed higher on Monday, as China’s trade data for September beat expectations.
The Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +3.81% opened lower on a negative U.S. lead from the end of last week, but ended the session higher by 0.2%.
The gain following data showing China’s exports and imports for September rose 15.3% and 7% respectively, both beating market forecasts.
Index heavyweight China Mobile Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/200868736/delayed HK:941 +6.04% popped up 1.4%, as reports said the telecoms giant is planning to invest about $166 million in a new media venture to operate its digital entertainment business.
Major insurer AIA Group Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/203565558/delayed HK:1299 +3.27% advanced 1.7%, with investors eyeing its quarterly results due out later this week.
However, Chinese real estate stocks were weak, with Agile Property Holdings Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/210448079/delayed HK:3383 +4.45% diving 17.2%.
Agile resumed share trading on Monday following a week-long trading halt, after the company said its Chairman Chen Zhuolin was placed under home surveillance by prosecutors. Mainland media reports said Chen was accused of suspected bribery to government officers for a massive property project in China’s southwestern Yunnan province, with the nation’s top economic planner and the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources having criticized the firm earlier for building golf courses in the project illegally.
Other property stocks also suffered substantial losses, as Guangzhou R&F Properties Co. Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/200033596/delayed HK:2777 +4.90% sank 4.4%, Shimao Property Holdings Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/208719072/delayed HK:813 +6.64% tumbled 4%, and Sino-Ocean Land Holdings Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/201858088/delayed HK:3377 +8.78% slid 3%.
Several brokerage firms fell after various media reports said the long-awaited Hong Kong-Shanghai “stock connect” program, which would allow direct share trading between the two markets, may be postponed to the end of this month or even further, possibly due to Beijing’s hesitation in granting approval amid Hong Kong’s political unrest.
Haitong International Securities Group Co., formerly Taifook Securities, declined 2.8%, China Everbright Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/209679060/delayed HK:165 +12.46% skidded 2.4%, and Citic Securities Co. /zigman2/quotes/208139708/delayed HK:6030 +17.29% lost 0.9%.
Meanwhile, other Asian major markets closed lower, as Shanghai Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP +5.71% fell 0.4%, Sydney’s S&P/ASX /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -0.71% shredded 0.6%, and Seoul’s Kospi Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +1.65% dropped 0.7%.
Japanese stock markets were closed for a public holiday. The dollar /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY -0.1507% fell to ¥107.465 from ¥107.645 in the previous session.