Hong Kong stocks started out flat on Friday as the final presidential debate got under way in the US and ahead of a major political event in China where policymakers will decide China's economic blueprint for the next five years.
The Hang Seng Index rose 0.1 per cent to 24,799.91 as of 10.22am local time.
On the mainland, major benchmarks rose slightly ahead of China's Fifth Plenum of the 19th Communist Party Congress next week. The CSI300 Index, which tracks the biggest companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen, added 0.2 per cent to 4,790.12. The Shanghai Composite Index edged up 0.2 per cent to 3,317.36.
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In Hong Kong, oil companies led the gains. CNOOC added 4.1 per cent, while PetroChina climbed 3.2 per cent.
Health care stocks were the biggest losers after a volunteer participating in a clinical trial of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca died in Brazil, the local authorities announced on Wednesday. The first death reported in worldwide vaccine trials weighed on market sentiment, despite the fact the volunteer was in the control group and had therefore not received the vaccine.
CSPC Pharmaceutical Group shed 1.5 per cent, and Sino Biopharmaceutical dropped 1.4 per cent.
Beer stocks were big winners. Fujian Yanjing Huiquan Brewery shot up 5.5 per cent, while Beijing Yanjing Brewery gained 1.9 per cent.
Two companies rallied on their debuts. Canggang Railway jumped 2 per cent in Hong Kong, while Donglai Coating Technology Shanghai surged by 122.8 per cent.
Mobile payments giant Ant Group has been a hot topic among traders, as its dual listings in Hong Kong and Shanghai are approaching. It was valued roughly between US$350 billion and US$450 billion as it kicked off its digital IPO roadshow in Asia, Europe and the United States this week.
Elsewhere, stocks on Wall Street climbed as economic data improved in the US. The number of Americans applying for jobless claims dropped to 787,000 last week, according to the Labor Department. And sales of secondary homes rose to a new 14-year high in September, the National Association of Realtors said, according to The Wall Street Journal.
US lawmakers' talks on a stimulus package to relieve the impact of the coronavirus pandemic are still ongoing, although a deal before November 3, the presidential election day, is seen as increasingly unlikely.
More from South China Morning Post:
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- China stocks slip, Hong Kong market erases losses amid market volatility, US stimulus impasse before election