Hong Kong shares tumble on S&P rating cut after China Downgrade

Hong Kong equities fell on Friday after S&P Global Ratings downgraded Hong Kong and China's credit ratings.

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Floor traders at work during the launch of Shenzhen Connect at the Hong Kong Exchanges in Hong Kong, China. REUTERS

Hong Kong equities fell on Friday after S&P Global Ratings downgraded Hong Kong and China's credit ratings.

Tech rout comes just days after the world's fourth-largest equity market witnessed a small-cap selloff, which wiped out more than $6 billion in market value.

Sentiment across Asia was mixed while safe haven assets such as the yen and gold strengthened after North Korea test-fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile toward Japan.

At 0426 GMT, the benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 0.84 percent or 236 points to 27,874. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, known as the H-share index, lost 0.7 per cent to 11,122.34.

S&P Global Ratings lowered Hong Kong's long-term issuer credit rating to AA+ from AAA on Friday morning, hours after it downgraded China's sovereign credit rating to A+ from AA-, citing "very strong institutional and political linkages" between China and Hong Kong.

S&P also cut ratings for the China units of three foreign banks, including HSBC, Hang Seng Bank, and DBS Bank.

Chinese financial shares lead losses. China Construction Bank lost 0.6 percent, Ping An Insurance dropped 0.8 percent and China Life Insurance dropped 1.1 percent.

Galaxy Entertainment sank 1.2 percent while Tencent Holdings shed 0.4 percent.

Other laggards included China Shenhua Energy down 2 percent, Geely Automobile Holdings dropped 3 percent while Want Want China Holdings lost 1.5 percent.

In Asia, stocks fell while safe havens suc as the Japanese yen and Swiss franc gained amidst possibility of North Korea conducting another hydrogen bomb test.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said on Friday he believes the North could consider a nuclear test on an "unprecedented scale" in the Pacific Ocean, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan handed back earlier gains and was down 0.4 percent after falling 0.7 percent the previous day.