Hong Kong share market closed marginally lower on Wednesday, 17 April 2019, as investors were unsure whether China's better-than-expected first-quarter economic growth would sustain. In January-March, the economy grew 6.4 percent from a year earlier, matching the previous quarter's pace and defying expectations for a further slowdown, as industrial production jumped sharply and consumer demand showed signs of improvement. At closing bell, the Hang Seng Index declined 0.07%, or 21.25 points, to 30,108.62. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index rose 20.23 points or 0.17% to 11,841.41.
China reported better-than-expected economic growth data, fuelling hopes of a recovery in its economy amid concerns of a global growth slowdown. China gross domestic product expanded a seasonally adjusted 1.4% on quarter in the first quarter of 2019, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday, down from 1.5% in the three months prior. On a yearly basis, GDP expanded 6.4% - unchanged from Q4. The bureau also said the retail sales climbed 8.7% on year in March, up from 8.2% in February and China fixed asset investment grows by 6.3%.
China's fiscal spending increased 15 percent during January-March from year ago levels to support economic growth, and local governments quickened their bond issuance for key projects, the finance ministry said on Tuesday.
China's economy still faces downward pressure, while policy steps to support the economy are starting to bear fruit, statistics bureau said on Wednesday.
China's central bank unexpectedly drained a net 6.5 billion yuan ($969.64 million) via open market operations on Wednesday, even though it lent 200 billion yuan to financial institutions via its one-year medium-term lending facility (MLF).
Shares of natural gas distributor stocks plunged across the board after a Citi research report today said regulator National Development and Reform Commission has issued a consultation paper with a proposal to cap return on operations to connect customers to distributors' pipeline network at 10 per cent above cost. Since Hong Kong-listed mainland gas distributors source 30 per cent to 40 per cent of their operating profits from the collection of such connection fees, Citi's analysts estimated their net profits could be cut by 4 per cent to 20 per cent if the fees per household is cut by 7 per cent to 26 per cent. ENN Energy (2688 HK) fell 2.7 per cent to HK$74.30, while China Gas Holdings (384 HK) slumped 4.5 per cent to HK$24.40, China Resources Gas (1193) slid 2.8 per cent to HK$35.35 and Kunlun Energy (135 HK) lost 3.1 per cent to HK$8.35.
Shares of pork related companies inclined after CICC published new report expressing its optimistic view on the pork sector. WH Group (00288) shot up 2.7% to HK$9.04. COFCO Meat (01610) jumped 4.6% to HK$3.21.