The Hang Seng Index dropped to a one-month low at the close on Friday, ending the day 1.11 per cent lower at 25,821. Heavyweight stocks weighed on the benchmark, which was also affected by rumours around an address by Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor where she announced a ban of face masks during protests.
Utilities, property developers and financial services providers were the biggest drag on the index. Electricity supplier CLP Holdings lost 1.6 per cent to HK$80.8 and HK&China Gas lost 1.4 per cent to HK$15.2.
Billionaire Li Ka-shing's CK Hutchison Holdings shed 1.9 per cent to HK$68.3, while Sun Hung Kai Properties, Hong Kong's biggest developer by sales, fell 3.9 per cent to HK$109.8. Henderson Land and Wharf Real Estate Investment declined as well, with both falling by more than 2 per cent.
Meanwhile, bourse operator Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, in the news for offering to acquire the more than 300-year-old London Stock Exchange, fell 1.4 per cent to HK$226.2 following reports some of the London exchange's investors expected it to improve its buyout offer.
The benchmark was also held down by shares of Macau casinos. Galaxy Entertainment lost 2.7 per cent to HK$48.7 and Sands China lost 2.3 per cent to HK$35.3. Gaming revenue touched its lowest level for the year in September, but it was 0.6 per cent higher than the same period last year, according to official numbers disclosed on Tuesday.
Around 2pm on Friday, the index plunged by 300 points before it made something of a recovery amid rumours such as schools being suspended for a week. The markets were boosted midly by Lam, who said the city was not in a state of emergency.
"This coming weekend is critical [to the market]. It really depends on how [the protests] will evolve this weekend. But, at least, we have started to see Carrie Lam do something, albeit not enough," said Alex Au, managing director at Alphalex Capital Management.
Meanwhile, mainland Chinese developers and hardware companies were the day's biggest gainers.
Strong sales in September boosted the share price of China's biggest developer, Country Garden. It closed 2.6 per cent higher at HK$10.4. Evergrande China, another mainland China-based developer, rose 5.3 per cent to HK$17.6, after it revealed on Thursday record monthly sales for last month.
AAC Technologies Holdings, an Apple and Huawei Technologies supplier, rose by 3.1 per cent to HK$43.5.
Budweiser Brewery Company APAC rose by 3 per cent, ending its debut trading week with a market cap of HK$403 billion, a new high.
This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2019 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.