Agricultural Bank Debut Disappoints in Hong Kong, Asian Markets Mixed


In Asia Friday Hong Kong's Hang Seng was virtually unchanged, dipping 0.03% to 20,250 and China's Shanghai Composite Index remained at 2,424. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index fell 2.9%, ending the day at 9,408.

After all the hype, Agricultural Bank of China had a disappointing performance in its Hong Kong debut today, rising only 2.2%. This after yesterday's lackluster opening in Shanghai where shares only rose 0.8%, and actually fell 0.4% today. Analysts on CNBC have spent weeks discussing whether or not the bank's IPO would lift market sentiment around the world. And in China, individual investors have been lining up at banks to get in on the IPO of the 61 year-old bank with more than 23,000 outlets covering nearly every rural district of the People's Republic.

Despite today's small advance, Agri Bank will still top the world's biggest IPOs, according to the Wall Street Journal, if it "fully exercises the offering's overallotment option," with a final tally of $22.14. Agri Bank's chaiman, Xiang Junbo, said he was "very happy" with today's results. "Given the difficult market situation at present . . . we are satisfied with today's stock prices," he told reporters.

Hong Kong shares were also affected by data out of the U.S. showing that manufacturing and wholesale prices were both down. This could indicate that economic recovery is further off than we're all hoping. Today Li & Fung, a huge supplier of bargain clothes and toys, slid 1.5% and shares in Esprit slipped 1.1%.

Property developers had mixed results today. China Overseas plunged 2.5% and Henderson Land dipped another 1.4% after recent declines resulting from the 39 Conduit Road luxury apartment sales debacle in which agreements for 20 units fell through. New World Development racked up a 2.2% gain.

Telecom company Tencent, which provides Internet and gaming services in China, rose 1.9% while China Unicom sank 0.6%.

In China, banks had a mixed day with Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, which launched the world's third largest IPO four years ago, losing 0.7% and Bank of China sinking 0.6%. Meanwhile China Merchants Bank advanced 0.7% and China Construction Bank added 0.4%.

Metro Land, a Chinese property leasing company and department store operator rocketed up 7.1% after announcing a 116% rise in net income for the first half of the year as compared to last year, according to Bloomberg, and Beijing Huaye Realestate, a company that invests in property and also makes men's suits and other textile products, surged 4.7%. Among the big three property developers, China Vanke advanced 1.3%, Poly Real Estate inched up 0.3% and Gemdale added 0.2%.

Meanwhile, the bad news coming out of the U.S. sent shares in Japanese exporters plunging. Sony, which relies on American consumers for more than 20% of its sales, slumped 5% and Canon, which makes around 80% of its money there, dived 3.2%. Even Nintendo, with its super-cool 3D technology for hand-held game consoles, declined 2.7%. In times like this, even kids may have to cut back.

Originally published