Headline indices of the Hong Kong share market closed down for third straight session on Thursday, 19 July 2018, as the Chinese yuan's descent to a one-year low eroded early gains spurred by following a positive lead on Wall Street overnight after the US Federal Reserve chief offered an upbeat assessment of the economy. Meanwhile, concerns resulting from uncertainty such as a trade war also weighed on sentiments. At the close of trade, the Hang Seng Index fell 106.56 points or 0.38% to 28,010.86. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index slipped 55.22 points or 0.52% to 10,523.24. Turnover increased slightly to HK$77.4 billion from HK$76.2 billion on Wednesday.
Shares of HK listed Chinese insurers closed higher. NCI (01336) jumped 4.1% to HK$33.95 after the company issued positive profit alert. Ping An (02318) also gained 0.1% to HK$70.4 as Macquarie Research still rated the stock outperform. China Life (02628) added 1% to HK$19.74 as its chairman Yang Mingsheng said in a business briefing that the company will actively transform itself in second half of the year.
Footwear maker Pegasus International slumped 6.7% after saying its largest customer will no longer continue its business relationship with the company, effective September.
Perennial International declined 1.5% after the electric cable and wire product maker said it expects to have recorded a loss in the first six months of the year, compared with a profit a year ago.
Aluminum Corp. of China rose 1.3% after saying its board approved purchases of carbon assets and equity held by affiliated enterprises of Chinalco Assets Operation & Management, a unit of its controlling shareholder.
Paper-products maker Vinda International Holdings jumped 7.2% after reporting a 30% surge in profit for the first half and a 16.3% increase in revenue.
Corporate news byte:- NCI sees interim profit to rise 80% -- New China Life Insurance (01336) said the net profit for the first half of 2018 may increase by around 80% respectively as compared to the same period in 2017. The estimated increase in the interim results 2018 is primarily attributable to the impact of the change of discount rate assumption for traditional insurance liabilities, and the total investment income of the company for the first half of 2018 remained almost unchanged.
China Re unit's 6-month premium income up 17.23% -- China Reinsurance (01508) said the aggregate premiums income as derived from its operating subsidiary China Continent Property & Casualty Insurance Company Ltd. for the first six months of 2018 was RMB21,808 million, an increase of 17.23% over the same period last year.
ECONOMIC NEWS:- According to the provisional figures for April to June 2018 released by the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD), the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 2.8% in April to June 2018, same as that in March to May 2018. The underemployment rate also remained unchanged at 1.0% in the two periods. Total employment increased by 4,900 from 3.8649 million in March to May 2018 to 3.8698 million in April to June 2018. Over the same period, the labour force also increased by 5,000 to 3.9822 million.
OFFSHORE MARKET NEWS: US stock market closed modest higher on Wednesday, supported by the Powell reiterating that the U.S. economy was healthy, even though he warned that rising world protectionism would over time pose a risk to the global economic expansion. The S&P 500 index rose 6.07 points, or 0.2%, to 2,815.62. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 79.40 points, or 0.3%, to 25,199.29. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.67 points to 7,854.44.
The major European markets also ended higher on Wednesday. The STOXX600 index lifted by 0.6%, the German DAX index rose by 0.8% and the UK FTSE index rose by 0.7%.
COMMODITY NEWS: Crude oil futures rebounded to settle modestly higher on Wednesday, extending gains to a second successive session. According to the EIA, US crude inventories rose by 5.8 million barrels last week as oil production reached a record 11 million barrels per day. But a drone attack at a Saudi Aramco refinery in Riyadh by Yemen's Houthis supported prices. There were also reports that OPEC compliance with output curbs fell by 27% to 147% in May. Brent crude rose by US74 cents or 1.0% to US$72.90 a barrel. WTI oil for August delivery ended up $0.68 or 1% at $68.76 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Base metal prices were mixed on the London Metal Exchange (LME) on Wednesday. Zinc rose by the most in 12 months, up by 3.8% on speculation that China is taking steps to bolster bank lending. But aluminium was down by 0.6%.
The gold futures price rose by US60 cents an ounce or 0.05% to $1,227.90 an ounce. The spot goldprice was trading near US$1,227 an ounce in late US trade.