Representative image. (Reuters photo)

Hong Kong stocks end week higher as virus deaths fall


Hong Kong stocks edged up on Friday, as the daily death and infection tolls in the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak returned to lower levels, following a dramatic spike the previous day. At the close of trade, the Hang Seng index was up 0.3% at 27,815.60, up 1.5% week-on-week. The index also rose last week. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index rose 0.3%. The sub-index of the Hang Seng tracking energy shares rose 0.1%, the IT sector dipped 0.8%, the financial sector ended 0.5% higher and the property sector gained 1%.

The top gainer on the Hang Seng was Techtronic Industries Co Ltd, which gained 2.5%, while the biggest loser was AAC Technologies Holdings Inc, which fell 2.6%. The daily death toll in Hubei, the Chinese province at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak, halved and the number of new cases dropped from a record posted the day before.

But with the number of new cases at over 5,000 on Friday, the epidemic showed no signs of peaking. Passengers on a cruise ship blocked from five countries due to virus fears finally disembarked in Cambodia. The Chinese economy will grow at its slowest rate since the financial crisis in the current quarter, according to a Reuters poll of economists who said the downturn will be short-lived if the outbreak is contained.

China's main Shanghai Composite index and the blue-chip CSI300 index marked the first weekly gain in four as new infections slowed in Hubei province. Around the region, MSCI's Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.2%, while Japan's Nikkei index closed down 0.6%. About 1.45 billion Hang Seng index shares were traded. The volume traded in the previous trading session was 1.62 billion. At close, China's A-shares were trading at a premium of 23.73% over Hong Kong-listed H-shares.