China stocks fall amid concerns ahead of holidays
China's blue-chip CSI 300 Index slipped 0.1% by the end of the morning session, while the Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.2%.
CHINA: China stocks slipped in thin trading volume on Thursday, ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays, as investors worried about more covid outbreaks and other uncertainties when markets are closed for the festival.
China's blue-chip CSI 300 Index slipped 0.1% by the end of the morning session, while the Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.2%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index lost 0.3% and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index declined 0.5%. Other Asian stock markets mostly pushed higher ahead of U.S. consumer price data that investors hope will confirm inflation is in retreat.
People in China worried about spreading covid-19 to aged relatives as they planned returns to their home towns for the Lunar New Year holiday that the World Health Organization warns could inflame a raging outbreak.
The week-long holiday that officially starts on Jan. 21 comes after China dropped its zero-covid strategy last month in a policy U-turn that unleashed a wave of infections across the country. Chinese investors tend to be cautious ahead of the long holidays, and some had booked profits before the markets shut for the country's biggest festival.
Real estate developers dropped 2.7% and tourism-related companies fell 1.1%, while new energy vehicles gained 1.8%. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology pledged stable growth of the industrial economy in 2023, including key industries such as autos and consumer goods.
Tech giants listed in Hong Kong slumped 1.9%, with Alibaba and Tencent down more than 3% each to drag the Hang Seng benchmark. Elsewhere, China's annual consumer inflation rate accelerated in December, driven by rising food prices even as domestic demand wavered amid restrained economic activity during the month.
However, Zhiwei Zhang, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management, said inflation is not a constraint to further loosen monetary policy this year.