HK shares sink on inflation, Covid jitters

Growing fears over the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant globally and persistent concerns over inflation sent most shares in the region lower on Monday, with the Hong Kong benchmark falling below the 28,000-mark.

The Hang Seng Index followed the lead of Wall Street to open down more than 200 points, before further sliding to lose as many as 607 points. It finished 514 points, or 1.8 percent lower, at 27,489.

Market turnover was HK$142.9 billion.

The biggest blue-chip loser, Meituan, slumped five percent, after Morgan Stanley trimmed its target price. Other major tech shares underperformered as well.

Alibaba declined 3.2 percent. Tencent dropped 2.6 percent.

Financials also dragged on the benchmark. AIA shed 3.3 percent. HSBC fell 2.3 percent.

China Evergrande plummeted 16.4 percent, after a report said a mainland court had frozen a bank deposit by one of its units, renewing worries over the cash-strapped developer’s ability to repay its debt.

But China telco firms bucked the trend. China Unicom rose 1.2 percent. China Mobile put on 0.8 percent. China Telecom surged six percent.

Across the border, the Shanghai Composite index finished flat, while the blue-chip CSI300 index added 0.4 percent. The Shenzhen Composite put on 0.1 percent.

Around the region, Japan’s Nikkei trimmed 1.25 percent. The Kospi in South Korea was little changed.

Taiwan inched down 0.6 percent. Singapore slipped 1.3 percent. Australia retreated 0.9 percent.

In commodities, oil prices stumbled after the OPEC+ group of producers agreed to boost output over the weekend.

In currencies, the yen inched higher as investors headed for safe haven investment amid market jitters.