Most Asia markets up, Hong Kong swings as Evergrande sale fails

HONG KONG (AFP) – Most Asian markets rose Thursday following another strong Wall Street lead as positive earnings continued to smother inflation and taper worries, while Hong Kong fluctuated and Evergrande tumbled with the property giant resuming trading after saying a unit sale had fallen through.

Surging global prices have sent shivers through trading floors for much of this year as central banks are forced to tighten their ultra-loose, pandemic-era monetary policies, but a string of broadly on-target or forecast-beating corporate reports have provided a much-needed salve.

The Dow and S&P 500 closed within spitting distance of record highs after the latest results, while dealers brushed off a Federal Reserve summary of the economy that said transport constraints and shortage of goods had led to “significantly elevated prices” in most areas of the United States, slowing growth.

The advances filtered through to most of Asia with Sydney, Singapore, Seoul, Taipei, Manila and Jakarta extending the week’s rally, though Tokyo and Wellington dipped.

Hong Kong swung in and out of positive territory and embattled Evergrande tanked more than 12 percent as it resumed trading following a 17-day suspension after saying the planned sale of its property services arm had collapsed.

It also warned it could not guarantee it would meet its debt obligations, days before a 30-day grace period on an offshore bond ends at the weekend, raising expectations it will default and spark a massive restructuring.

Justin Tang, of United First Partners, warned that “without the infusion of cash from the sale” of assets, the firm’s share price “is going to take the elevator down”.

There had been hope that the $2.58 billion sale of a 50.1 percent stake in Evergrande Property Services Group would provide it with much-needed capital to service its debts.

Shares in the services arm fell more than four percent, while Hopson Development — the firm that had been in the buy-out talks — rose more than five percent.

The news will again raise worries about the impact on the wider economy, with the property sector accounting for a huge chunk of gross domestic product and several other developers recently failing to meet debt payment deadlines.

Data this week showed the country’s economic growth was slower than expected in the third quarter.

Still, investors have been calmed by comments at the weekend from top officials at the People’s Bank of China who said the fallout from the crisis could be contained.

Equity markets in Hong Kong appeared to take the news in their stride in early trade, with other property firms in positive territory. Mainland Chinese markets were also up.

Bitcoin was sitting around $65,000, having broken Wednesday to a new record high of $66,976 Wednesday after a financial instrument dedicated to the unit made a successful debut on the New York Stock Exchange.

The digital unit has surged more than 50 percent over the past month and an eye-watering 450 percent over the past year, and analysts are now whispering the possibility it could hit $100,000 soon.