Live News Updates: Sterling strengthens as markets react to Johnson retreat

The Hang Seng index fell as much as 5.1% in morning trade, while the CSI 300 slipped as much as 2% © Jérôme Favre/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Stocks in Hong Kong and China fell sharply on Monday as the country’s delayed release of gross domestic product data unsettled markets.

The Hang Seng index fell as much as 5.1 percent in morning trade, while the CSI 300 index of Shanghai- and Shenzhen-listed stocks fell as much as 2 percent.

The declines followed the unscheduled release of China’s GDP numbers and other economic data, which beat expectations with a 3.9 percent expansion but still posted far slower growth than the country had become accustomed to in recent decades.

The nervousness was compounded by the delay in the release of the data, originally scheduled for last Tuesday. The figures came without warning after China’s landmark 20th Party Congress, which saw leader Xi Jinping secure a landmark third term in the country’s key political roles.

Xi showed little willingness to deviate from his strict zero-Covid policy during the conference. The policy aimed at eliminating cases of the virus through strict lockdown measures has hurt China’s growth prospects this year.

“This is panic selling,” said Dickie Wong, head of research at Kingston Securities in Hong Kong. “Clearly, investors are simply not confident about the future of the Chinese economy.”

Elsewhere, Japan’s Topix rose 0.4 percent and South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.9 percent. The moves followed sharp gains in the US on Friday, where the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite both rose more than 2 percent on reports the Federal Reserve may slow the pace of its rate hikes from December.

Oil prices fell after early gains, with Brent crude, the international benchmark, falling 0.5 percent to $93.03 a barrel and US marker West Texas Intermediate falling by the same margin to $84.60.

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