Hong Kong stocks slumped on lingering worries about Big Tech clampdown while a US top official expressed doubts over future trade deals with China. Developer China Evergrande crashed 16 per cent after a lender froze some of its deposits.
The Hang Seng Index declined 1.8 per cent to 27,489.78, the most in about two weeks. The Shanghai Composite slipped less than 0.1 per cent, paring losses of as much as 0.9 per cent.
Meituan led decliners with a 5 per cent retreat to HK$276.20, its lowest level since July 8, while Alibaba Group Holding lost 3.2 per cent to HK$202.60 and Tencent Holdings tumbled 2.6 per cent to HK$549.50. AIA Group slid 3.3 per cent to HK$93.
China on Friday launched a multi-agencies on-site inspection on Didi Chuxing after an attack on the ride-hailing firm earlier this month, signalling the state clampdown may extend beyond cybersecurity issues. Huang Qifan, former mayor of Chongqing, separately warned Chinese Big Tech about their data practices.
“Since Ant Group’s IPO troubles, the antitrust law has been applied to other tech stocks in China with Didi being a big example,” said Louis Tse Ming-kwong, managing director of Wealthy Securities. “The [lingering] repercussions of the antitrust law has clobbered the sector.”
China Evergrande plunged by the most in nine months to HK$8.21. The sell-off was triggered by a court order obtained by China Guangfa Bank to freeze 132 million yuan of deposits held by the developer’s onshore unit, according to a court judgment last week.
Hong Kong has also been caught in the cross hairs of worsening US-China relations following a recent warning from the Biden administration, leading people to have second thoughts about investing in the city, he added.
Elsewhere, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen expressed doubts about the Trump-era trade deal with China, saying the tariffs put in place on China were not “thoughtful” and has hurt American consumers, according to an interview with The New York Times.
Chinese real estate developer Sanxun Holdings began trading in Hong Kong, with its stock closing unchanged from the offering price of HK$4.75.
Market sentiment also took a hit from a surge in global Covid-19 infections from the UK to Indonesia, especially those related to the Delta variant, prompting at least five Asian governments to tighten social restrictions. Singapore on Sunday reported its highest daily number of new locally-transmitted coronavirus cases since August.
Markets in the Asia-Pacific region also fell. Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 1.3 per cent, while South Korea’s Kospi dropped 1 per cent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 retreated by 0.9 per cent.