Hong Kong Stocks Extend Biggest Weekly Drop Since 2012

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Hong Kong stocks slid, with the city’s benchmark index extending its biggest weekly drop since May 2012, as Tencent Holdings Ltd. led declines and China eased controls over the yuan.

The Hang Seng Index (HSI) lost 0.3 percent to 21,472.64 as of 9:47 a.m. in Hong Kong after dropping 4.9 percent last week on disappointing mainland economic data. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index (HSCEI), also known as the H-share index, was little changed at 9,302.39 after posting its biggest weekly decline since October. Tencent slid 4.1 percent.

The H-share measure last week fell as much as 20 percent from a Dec. 2 high in intraday trading, a threshold some investors consider a bear market, amid deepening concern China will miss its economic growth target. The measure traded at 6.3 times estimated earnings on March 14, compared with 15.7 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

From today, the yuan will be able to trade as much as 2 percent either side of a daily reference rate set by the People’s Bank of China, from 1 percent previously, policy makers said in a March 15 statement. The move underscores China’s pledged to make the exchange rate more market based to promote freer movement of capital.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., China’s biggest e-commerce company, started the process for a U.S. initial public offering after struggling to persuade Hong Kong regulators to approve its proposed governance structure. Investment banks value Alibaba at as much as $200 billion, which would make it the second-biggest Internet company behind Google Inc. based on market capitalization.

Futures on the S&P 500 were little changed. The U.S. equities benchmark fell 0.3 percent on March 14. Preliminary results show that more than 95 percent of voters in the Black Sea region of Crimea chose to leave Ukraine and become part of Russia in a referendum deemed illegal by the European Union and the U.S.