BEIJING -- Hong Kong equities were mostly gainers Tuesday, with the Hang Seng index rising 0.3% to 16,369. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.9% to 1682.Shares of China stocks advanced in New York's shortened Monday trading session. China Mobile ( CHL) was up 2.2% to $29.25 on the same day its takeover talks with Millicom International Cellular ( MICC) were officially pronounced dead. But Millicom shares plummeted 26.6% to $12.10 after the Luxembourg-based telecom outfit said it will take itself off the auction block. Millicom had been pursuing a sale since January, and over the past few weeks speculation emerged that China Mobile was a serious suitor. The rumored acquisition aroused much interest given the likely synergies between China Mobile, the world's biggest mobile phone provider with some 260 million subscribers, and Millicom, which sells prepaid cell phone service to 9 million customers in emerging markets in Latin America, Africa and Asia. But on July 3 Millicom said that after a month of negotiating, its potential unnamed acquirer -- widely reported to be China Mobile -- couldn't come up with a "suitably attractive offer." As for China Mobile, it's worth noting that an acquisition actually might not have had a direct short-term effect on shares, since its parent company would have been making the purchase. Also Monday, Hurray! ( HRAY) rose 6.9% to $5.86 on news it had won contracts to upgrade WAP portal systems for China Unicom ( CHU) in two different provinces. Hurray management said the deals were important not so much for their financial implications -- CEO Q.D. Wang described the contracts as "relatively small" - but for what they might indicate about spending by service providers. "After delays for almost a year, we believe these contracts marked a pickup in mobile operators' activities to expand capacity on their wireless data infrastructure to accommodate continued user growth," Wang said in a statement.
On the currency front, the yuan closed Tuesday at 8.0010 to the dollar. A
slight strengthening of the currency in past weeks has given rise to chatter that China could be about to widen the trading band for the yuan, possibly easing the way for the currency to rise. U.S. politicians, who say China's currency is deeply undervalued, have been pressing Beijing to allow it to appreciate more. A stronger yuan would make Chinese exports more expensive and could ameliorate the huge U.S. trade deficit with China. But Stephen Green, an economist at Standard Chartered, said in a note Tuesday that he's "deeply skeptical" of talk of an imminent move that would allow the yuan to appreciate much. Last July, the government allowed a one-time, 2.1% upward revaluation of the yuan, but since then the currency has seen limited appreciation. Currently the yuan is allowed to fluctuate up or down by 0.3% against the dollar each trading day. But in practice it still moves less than 0.1% in intraday trading, Green pointed out. "If pressure in the run-up to the November U.S. congressional elections gets too much to bear, a wider trading band would be a useful headline-grabbing move to signal progress," Green wrote. "But until we get more volatility in practice, it would be just that." The economist added that he expects the yuan to appreciate only about 3% to 4% against the dollar over the next year.