Asian markets: dives in Hong Kong trading

Trading in Hong Kong Tuesday was hampered by a severe tropical storm that delayed the opening of the stock market until 2:30 p.m. By the end of the shortened session, which lasted only an hour and a half, the Hang Seng had slipped 66 points to close at 20,866 -- a loss of .3 percent.

Active stocks included Hong Kong-listed, China's largest e-commerce web site, which suffered its biggest loss since mid-March, falling 11 percent to close at HK$18.80. The drop in share price was a reaction to Yahoo! Inc.'s sale of 57.5 million shares (1 percent) of the company for HK$1.14 billion ($147 million). According to Reuters, Yahoo! sold the shares at a 6.4 percent discount to the stock's Monday closing price, driving down the overall share price. Even after the sale, Yahoo! remains the biggest shareholder in parent Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. with a 40 percent stake in the company.

While Yahoo! may simply be taking profits on an investment that has nearly quadrupled in value this year, its sale comes on the heels of last week's sale by Alibaba's chairman and founder Jack Ma of 13 million shares for $35 million. All this selling may shake investor confidence in the online company.

Elsewhere in Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index fluctuated between gains and losses at least eight times throughout the day before finally settling at 3,034 and posting a .2 percent gain. The mining sector saw lots of action with Yanzhou Coal Mining Co. Ltd. soaring to its 10 percent daily limit and Jiangxi Copper Co. jumping 4.3 percent. China Coal Energy Co. gained 1.9 percent.

Air China, the country's largest international carrier, climbed 3.8 percent, while China Southern Airlines Co. gained 1.8 percent. The airline industry reported a 42 percent increase in passenger numbers this August from a year earlier. According to Shanghai Securities News, Chinese airlines have made a combined profit of 8 billion yuan (1.2 billion) this year.

In Japan, the Nikkei ended the day up .2 percent to close at 10.218. Japan Airlines Corp. lost 3.4 percent despite its many foreign suitors, including Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Air France-KLM, which have all shown interest in joining forces with the beleaguered airline. JAL is desperately seeking cash; it suffered a 99 billion yen ($1 billion) quarterly loss earlier this year and is expecting to lose 63 billion yen in its current fiscal year, which ends in June. The stock had spiked 8 percent yesterday.

The biggest winner on the Japanese exchange was machinery maker Daikin Industries Ltd, which jumped 5 percent. But most Japanese shares were down, with consumer lender Aiful plummeting 8.4 percent. With its stock down 80 percent in the last year, Aiful has endured a battering far worse than a tropical storm.
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