Tech giants drag Hang Seng lower as shareholders dump stocks
Yahoo Finance · 13 Apr 1.4K Views

SHANGHAI, April 13 (Reuters) - Hong Kong stocks fell on Thursday, as major shareholders of Alibaba and Tencent moved to slash their holdings in the two Chinese tech giants, with lingering geopolitical tensions keeping investor sentiment weak.

By the end of the morning session, the Hang Seng benchmark was down 0.5%, while China's blue-chip CSI 300 lost 0.4%.

The decline tracked global stocks that eased overnight, after the markets were rattled by minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's last policy meeting that indicated banking sector stress could tip the economy into a recession.

Chinese shares, meanwhile, slipped even after China's exports posted a surprise surge in March and beat market expectations.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd plunged as much as 5.2% in early trade, as SoftBank Group Corp moved to sell almost all of its remaining shares in the e-commerce giant, the Financial Times reported, citing regulatory filings it had analyzed.

Alibaba was the biggest drag weighing down the Hang Seng benchmark.

Embattled property developer Sunac China, one of many Chinese developers that defaulted last year, fell as much as 60% as the stock resumed trade following a suspension of more than a year.

Tencent Holdings Ltd, however, recovered some losses by adding 0.6% after a 5.2% plunge in the previous session, as Prosus NV said it may sell more shares in the social media giant.

Taiwan said on Wednesday it had successfully urged China to drastically narrow its plan to close air space north of the island, averting wider travel disruption in a period of high tension in the region due to China's military exercises.

Chinese outbound shipments rose 14.8% in March, snapping five months of decline, while imports fell a smaller-than-expected 1.4%, customs data showed on Thursday.

"The positive surprise may be partly due to a low base effect – the COVID outbreaks in March last year forces many factories to shut down," said Zhiwei Zhang, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management.

"The strong export growth is unlikely to sustain given the weak global macro outlook. China still needs to rely more on domestic demand in the rest of the year," Zhang added.

Sector performances in China were mixed. Healthcare shares rose 2.5% while semiconductor stocks declined 2.1%. Sentiment of consumer staples and liquor shares slightly recovered, with shares up 0.3% and 0.7% respectively.

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