Asian Shares Lower; Hong Kong Violence Escalates; Alibaba Breaks Singles Day Record

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba set a new sales record on Singles Day, the world’s largest 24-hour shopping event. The S&P/ASX 200 Index posted its highest closing price since August 1, the same week it reached an all-time high closing value of 6845.
James Hyerczyk
Asian Shares

The major Asia Pacific stock indexes are under pressure on Monday, led by a steep drop in Hong Kong shares, which tumbled amid escalating tensions in the city. Political turmoil and violence worsened in the city when local police opened fire at mass demonstrators, injuring at least two protesters in the melee.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index settled at 26926.55, down 724.59 or -2.62%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index closed at 23331.84, down 60.03 or -0.26% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index finished at 2124.09, down 13.14 or -0.61%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 2909.97, down 54.21 or -1.83% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index closed at 6772.50, up 48.40 or +0.72%.

Hong Kong Violence Spirals

Protests in Hong Kong took a violent turn Monday, heightening an already volatile situation days after a group of pro-democracy lawmakers was arrested in the city, according to CNBC.

In one incident, a Hong Kong protester is in critical condition after being shot by police. In another incident, police said a group of protesters poured flammable liquid on a man and set him on fire.

The latest mass demonstrations come after three pro-democracy lawmakers were arrested on Saturday and reports indicated that others were warned they could soon be taken into custody.

Hong Kong stocks tumbled Monday, with the Hang Seng index falling more than 2 percent. Mainland China companies comprise about half of the firms listed on the exchange, according to the latest figures from the CIA World Factbook.

Australian Shares Close at Three Month High of 6772.50

The S&P/ASX 200 Index posted its highest closing price since August 1, the same week it reached an all-time high closing value of 6845.

Today’s gains were underpinned by very strong interest in CSL, which closed 3.5 percent higher, or $9.22 higher, at $270.66. This is the highest ever price for CSL, with the stock now trading at a price to earnings multiple of 43.8 times.

Also contributing to the gain were three of the big banks, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, and National Australia Bank, all gained more than 1 percent, while ANZ Bank was a major drag on the market as it fell 2.5 percent after going ex-dividend.

Traders said low interest rates and the progress being made between the U.S. and China toward a trade deal helped generate the gains.

U.S.-China Trade Deal

There were no new developments over the week-end as investors continue to digest last week’s events. On Thursday, trade optimism rose after China’s Commerce Ministry said that Beijing had agreed with Washington to lift existing trade tariffs between the two countries in phases. However, President Trump dampened the news on Friday when he said he has not agreed to scrap tariffs on Chinese goods.

Citi analysts said in a note, “We expect a high degree of uncertainty to remain even if a tariff rollback is achieved,” explaining that investment and financial frictions between the world’s two largest economies are likely to continue.

Alibaba Breaks Singles Day Record

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba set a new sales record on Singles Day, the world’s largest 24-hour shopping event.

Gross merchandise value (GMV), a figure that shows sales across Alibaba’s various shopping platforms, surpassed last year’s 213.5 billion yuan record (nearly $30.5 billion) on Monday afternoon local time, and kept rising through the rest of the day.

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