Hong Kong stocks end with big gains

Hong Kong stocks end with big gains

HONG KONG (AFP/ APP): Shares in Hong Kong surged more than three percent on Thursday as China’s moves to ease monetary policy provided a huge boost to the country’s embattled tech and property giants.
The Hang Seng Index rallied 3.42 percent, or 824.50 points, to 24,952.35.
But the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.09 percent, or 3.12 points, to 3,555.06, while the Shenzhen Composite Index on China’s second exchange lost 0.92 percent, or 22.44 points, to 2,419.69.
China further reduced bank lending costs Thursday in the latest move to boost its stuttering economy, which was battered in the second half of last year by lockdowns to battle virus outbreaks around the country, as well as a sharp slowdown in the crucial property market.
The central bank said it had lowered the one-year loan prime rate (LPR) — which guides how much interest commercial banks charge to corporate borrowers — to 3.7 percent, from 3.8 percent in December.
The move follows a reduction of the LPR in December, which was the first in 20 months.
The People’s Bank of China also lowered the rate on its one-year policy loans on Monday, just as data was released showing economic growth eased in the final quarter of 2021.
Bank officials have signalled a period of easing to support the economy, including more cuts in the amount of cash lenders must hold in reserve while analysts are predicting further rate cuts.
Property firms rallied on the move on hopes it will provide a boost to sales and give them some much-needed breathing room to help pay their huge debts, which have pushed the sector into crisis.
China Evergrande, which has been teetering on the brink for months owing to its struggles in servicing a debt pile of more than $300 billion, ended up 4.7 percent, while Sunac soared more than 15 percent and Country Garden piled on 4.4 percent. Kaisa Group rose more than 13 percent.
Tech firms were also enjoying a buying frenzy as lower borrowing costs make it easier for them to grow their business.
They have also been under pressure for much of last year as Beijing embarked on a crackdown on the sector, unveiling a series of measures looking to clip their wings.
The advance was led by shopping giant firm Meituan’s 11 percent gain and software firm XD, which put on 10 percent.

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