(Bloomberg) — The only certainty in Hong Kong’s stock market right now is that rebounds don’t last.
The fell as much as 2.2% Thursday amid signs of a widening rift between the U.S. and China, with President Donald Trump expected to sign a bill supporting Hong Kong protesters. Losses in the city were the worst in Asia, a painful reversal for investors who had chased its world-beating rally at the beginning of the week.
The lack of resilience in Hong Kong marks a departure from the start of 2019, where investors treated bad news as transitory and used declines as opportunities to buy the dip. Now, they’re shifting to sell the rally. That’s endangering this year’s gains, putting the Hang Seng Index at risk of posting its first back-to-back annual loss since 2002. It’s up just 2.4% for the year, down from 17% at its April high.
“If the bill becomes law, investors will be hesitant to take on the risk,” Hao Hong, head of research at Bocom International, said by phone. “There are too many moving parts, it’s very tricky. In the coming six months, the Hang Seng Index will be stuck in a range of 25,000 – 27,500.”
The U.S. bill is throwing another wrench into Hong Kong’s fourth-quarter stock performance. A weak yuan makes matters worse, as Hang Seng Index members get an average 64% of revenue from the mainland. Meanwhile, local firms are struggling as the city’s economy heads for a recession and retail sales plunge.
Trading volume in Hang Seng Index was around 28% higher than its 30-day average on Thursday, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Property stocks bore the brunt of the selloff, with a gauge of related firms dropping as much as 3%.
Wharf Real Estate Investment Co. and Hysan Development Co Ltd. declined at least 3.7%. Implied volatility in the Hang Seng Index jumped 5.4%, the most in a week. Elsewhere, Cosco Shipping Ports Ltd. lost as much as 6.6%.
Among other losers on Thursday, Ping An Healthcare and Technology Co. fell 5.3% after a 20 million-share block trade. The stock is heading for the biggest one-day loss in more than three months.
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