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Friday, April 21, 2017, 17:07

Hong Kong stocks down in subdued trading before French vote

By Reuters

Hong Kong stocks edged lower in thin trading on Friday, as investors took to the sidelines ahead of the first round of a tight French presidential election on Sunday.

Both the benchmark Hang Seng index and the China Enterprises Index lost 0.1 percent at the close, to 24,042.02 and 10,050.02, respectively.

Investors were reluctant to place fresh positions as they waited on the outcome of the first round of the French presidential election on Sunday. The overnight shooting in Paris claimed by Islamic State had also dampened the mood.

Also in focus was US President Donald Trump's decision on Thursday to launch a trade probe against global steel exporting countries including China, raising the possibility of new tariffs and sending shares of some US steel makers up over 8 percent.

But Chinese markets shrugged off the plan partly as Washington's move had been long anticipated.

"US accounts for a small proportion in China's steel exports," said Yang Kunhe, steel analyst at Northeast Securities. "But if Trump's probe translates into action, it would increase the chance of trade frictions, and hurt market sentiment."

Sector performance was mixed in Hong Kong, with property developers leading the declines.

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