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Hong Kong stocks fall ahead of Chinese New Year on weak sentiment

SHANGHAI, Jan 20 (Reuters) – Hong Kong shares fell on Monday, led by consumer stocks, reflecting pessimism toward the local economy as the city’s tourism industry reels under the impact of prolonged anti-government protests. ** Contributing to the sluggishness in the market, some investors unwound positions ahead of the Lunar Chinese New Year holiday later this week, traders said. ** The Hang Seng index fell 0.9% to 28,795.91, while the China Enterprises Index lost 0.8% to 11,331.49 points.

** An index tracking consumer goods and services companies dropped more than 2%. Energy shares fell over 1%.

** Traditionally, many mainland tourists would travel to Hong Kong during the Chinese New Year holiday, potentially benefiting retailers. But this year, many Chinese are avoiding Hong Kong, which has been suffering from months of often violent protests.

** Reports of a new coronavirus spreading in China also clouded Hong Kong’s tourism market ahead of the holiday.

** The sub-index of the Hang Seng tracking energy shares fell 1.2%, while the IT sector lost 0.42%, the financial sector 1.07% and the property sector 1.34%. ** The top gainer on the Hang Seng was Sino Biopharmaceutical Ltd, which gained 4.94%; while the biggest loser was Sands China Ltd, which fell 5.89%. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.22%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 0.18%. ** The yuan was quoted at 6.8623 per U.S. dollar at 08:34 GMT, 0.02% weaker than the previous close of 6.8606. ** The top gainers among H-shares were Sino Biopharmaceutical Ltd, which rose 4.94%; followed by China Mobile Ltd , gaining 3.7%; and China Telecom Corp Ltd, up 3.44%. ** The three biggest H-shares percentage decliners were Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd, down 4.38%; Longfor Group Holdings Ltd, down 3.61%; and China Vanke Co Ltd , down 3.26%. (Reporting by the Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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