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Asian Stocks Mixed; Hong Kong Property Developers Gain on New Government Measures

Investing.com - Asian equities were mixed in morning trade on Thursday. Hong Kong markets climbed, led by property developers after the government announced measures to ease the city’s housing shortage.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 1.0% to 26,905.25 by 10:30 PM ET (02:30 GMT).

Shares of New World Development Co Ltd (HK:0017) gained 3.5%, while Henderson Land (HK:0012) and CK Asset Holdings Ltd (HK:1113) climbed 2.5% and 1.7% respectively.

The gains came after Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam announced on Wednesday measures to ease the city’s housing problems.

In the U.S., Republican senators said overnight that they want to move on issues to support pro democracy protestors in Hong Kong “as rapidly as we can” despite China’s threat to retaliate.

The U.S. House passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act on Tuesday. The bill would subject the city’s special status to annual reviews and provides sanctions against any person deemed undermining Hong Kong’s “fundamental freedoms and autonomy.”

China’s Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Component both inched up 0.1%. There were growing concerns about how firm the “phase one” trade deal between Beijing and Washington really is.

U.S. President Donald Trump said under the deal, China would be buying $50 billion to $60 billion in U.S. farm products "in less than two years." But some analysts told The Wall Street Journal that that's way beyond what China has bought in any one year.

The deal ultimately could hinge on the U.S. suspending imposition of new 15% tariffs on $156 billion in Chinese imports, reports said, adding that China may balk at the farm purchases if the tariffs aren't suspended.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said overnight that the two sides are working on details of the trade deal text, hinting that there might be more meetings to come.

"As of now, there's no invitation and there's no plan" for a high-level meeting. "That doesn't mean we won't go," he said.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 traded 0.1% higher.

South Korea’s KOSPI fell 0.2%.

Down under, Australia’s ASX 200 dropped 0.5%.

Shares of BHP Billiton Ltd (ASX:BHP) slumped more than 2% after the company said its iron ore production for the third quarter dropped due to a planned maintenance at a key port. The miner maintained its fiscal 2020 iron ore production forecast.

On the data front, 14,700 new jobs were added in September, the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed. The figure is lower than the 15,000 that analysts expected.

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