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December 1, 2009

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HK stocks increase as banks recover

shares rebounded yesterday with banks recovering from steep losses as worries about Dubai's debt problems eased and as Chinese authorities reassured investors they would stick with economic stimulus.

Hong Kong stocks were up 3.25 percent, the biggest single-day gain in percentage terms in more than four months as HSBC and Standard Chartered led the way.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index, which posted the biggest single-day drop in percentage terms in eight months last Friday, climbed to as high as 21,924.08 before ending at 21,821.50, up 687 points. The index was up 0.315 percent for November, its third consecutive month of gains.

HSBC, which fell 7.59 percent to a three-week low last Friday, closed at HK$90.70 (US$11.70), up 4.25 percent.

Britain's HSBC, Europe's biggest bank, has the biggest exposure to the UAE, according to end-2008 estimates by the Emirates Banks Association. HSBC Chief Executive Michael Geoghegan said last Friday that the bank was "completely committed" to the Middle East.

Standard Chartered, which fell as much as 8.9 percent to a seven-week low last Friday, rose 4.15 percent to end at HK$193.20.

Despite the rebound, Sands China, the Macau assets of Las Vegas Sands, fell to as low as HK$8.78 on its market debut yesterday, down 15.4 percent from the issue price of HK$10.38. The stock, the second most actively traded after HSBC, closed at HK$9.32, down more than 10 percent.

Analysts said the sluggish market debut in Hong Kong signaled a weak investor appetite for a casino gaming company with a high valuation and an uncertain outlook. Its closest rival Wynn Macau rose 3.6 percent to HK$9.57.

Brokers said sentiment remained cautious though worries over Dubai's debt issue had eased.

"Since we don't expect the Dubai issue to have much immediate impact, the market's sentiment is very cautious and the focus is now on the US dollar," said Conita Hung, head equity research from Delta Asia Financial.


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