Hong Kong Jumps as Extradition Bill Could Die

Stocks in Hong Kong soared nearly 4% on Wednesday afternoon trade following reports that a controversial extradition bill is set to be withdrawn.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index gained 23.98 points to 20,649.14,

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index ballooned 995.38 points, or 3.9% to 26.523.23, paring some gains after surging as high as more than 4% earlier.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam will reportedly announce the withdrawal of a contentious extradition bill that has sparked months of mass protests and dampened investor sentiment. Its full withdrawal is one of five demands that protesters have been fighting for.

According to local media reports, Lam is due to make the announcement on Wednesday. North American sources confirmed that Lam will be calling for an urgent meeting with pro-Beijing supporters on Wednesday, but the agenda has not been confirmed.

Shares of companies that have come under the spotlight amid the turmoil in Hong Kong also skyrocketed following those reports.
Railway operator MTR, which has been hit by disruptions in its operations and damage to its infrastructure, jumped 6.4%. Embattled airliner Cathay Pacific also saw its shares surge 7.2%, with the firm’s CEO stepping down in mid-August amid heavy political pressure from Beijing after one of its pilots was found to have taken part in the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.

Australian markets were negative Wednesday, as data showed Australia’s economy rising as expected during the second quarter. Gross domestic product rose 0.5% quarter-on-quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis, and grew 1.4% year-on-year. Both figures came in, in line with expectations.

CHINA

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 gained 32.39 points, or 0.8%, to 3,886

The Caixin/Markit Services Purchasing Managers’ Index came in at 52.1 in August, its highest since May. The 50-mark in PMI readings separates growth and contraction. Official data for August released over the weekend showed services sector activity picking up for the first time in five months in August.

In other markets

In Korea, the Kospi index regained 22.84 points, or 1.2%, to 1,988.53

In Taiwan, markets returned from holiday, as the Taiex index leaped 99.1 points, or 0.9%

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index picked up 39.94 points, or 1.3%, to 3,130.57

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 popped 54.22 points, or 0.5%, to 11,008.13

In Australia, the ASX 200 slid 20.39 points, or 0.3%, to 6,553.01