Hong Kong stocks slide on Omicron, Meituan woes while Macau casino operators slump on crackdown

stocks, “variant of concern.”, Local authorities arrested

Hong Kong stocks slipped on concerns the spread of Omicron coronavirus strain will prompt more lockdowns and hurt economic recovery. Meituan slumped on weak earnings while a gambling crackdown hit Macau casino operators.

The Hang Seng Index retreated 0.7 per cent to 23,919.24 as of 10.42am local time. The Hang Seng Tech Index was little changed after falling almost 1 per cent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index declined 0.3 per cent.

Global markets sold after the World Health Organization labelled the new Covid strain Omicron as a “variant of concern.” New cases have spread in Europe, prompting the UK, US and some European governments to ban related travels. Hong Kong recorded two such cases last week.

Meituan tumbled 7.4 per cent to HK$244.20 near a one-month low. The food delivery platform operator posted a net loss of 10 billion yuan (US$1.6 billion) last quarter, wider than the 7 billion yuan loss consensus among analysts partly because of regulatory penalties.

Sands China and Galaxy Entertainment sank more than 5.6 per cent, leading Macau casino operators lower. Local authorities arrested Alvin Chau Cheok-wa, chief executive of the city’s biggest casino junket operator Suncity Group, in a probe into illegal cross-border gambling.

Suncity stock was halted from trading while Chau’s Sun Entertainment Group crashed 41 per cent in early trading.

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