SHANGHAI: China stocks fell on Friday as domestic COVID-19 cases and a new and possibly vaccine-resistant coronavirus variant weighed on investor sentiment, with semiconductor-related and energy shares leading the drop.
The CSI300 index fell 0.6% to 4,865.00 by the end of the morning session, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.5% to 3,566.18. The Hang Seng index dropped 2.1% to 24,213.55. The Hong Kong China Enterprises Index lost 2.1% to 8,626.31.
** For the week, the CSI300 index has shed 0.5%, while the Hang Seng Index lost 3.3%. Hong Kong stocks set to post their biggest weekly decline in 10.
** A handful of local COVID-19 cases in eastern parts of China have prompted Shanghai city to limit tourism activities and a nearby city to cut public transportation services.
** That sent tourism stocks and consumer staples down 1.6% and 0.6%, respectively.
** Meanwhile, the real estate sub-index, the energy sub-index, the semiconductor sub-index dropped between 1.3% and 2.8%.
** In the global market, the detection of a new and possibly vaccine-resistant coronavirus variant in South Africa spooked investors, pushing them to dump risk assets and flock to safe havens.
** Refinitiv data showed outflows of more than 1 billion yuan through the Northbound legs of the Stock Connect programme ,, showing overseas investors were net sellers of A-shares.
** Morgan Stanley said it continues to prefer A-shares in the China space and will wait for a better entry point.
** "Recent remarks around a policy easing stance and an A-share structural inflow catalyst are positive, but pressure lingers on the earnings front and consensus' estimates reduction could last for longer," Morgan Stanley said in a note.
** Hong Kong shares tracked global markets lower as the new COVID-19 variant weighed on sentiment.
** Tech giants tumbled 2.6%, with Tencent Holdings , Meituan, and Alibaba Group down between 3% and 4%.
** The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that some Chinese state-run companies were restricting employees' use of Tencent's messaging app Weixin, citing security concerns.
** Gambling stocks slumped 4.5%.