Hong Kong shares plunge on fears Xi Jinping will crack down on China’s businesses

Global shares were mixed, while Hong Kong’s benchmark plunged 6.4% on Monday as dismay over a lack of fresh policy initiatives from a Chinese Communist Party congress overshadowed a report that the No. 2 economy grew at a faster pace in the last quarter.

The dollar rose to nearly 150 yen, a day after the Japanese central bank reportedly again moved to stem the yen’s decline.

Britain’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.7% to 6,918.15 after former Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he will not run to lead the Conservative Party. Former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak is now the favorite to replace Liz Truss, who quit last week after her tax-cutting economic package caused turmoil in financial markets.

France’s CAC 40 rose nearly 0.6% in early trading to 6,068.71. Germany’s DAX added 0.6% to 12,807.23. The future for the Dow industrials was down 0.4% and that for the S&P 500 shed 0.5%.

Beijing’s report that the Chinese economy gained momentum in the last quarter was better than expected and up from the previous quarter’s 0.4%, but that was among the slowest expansions in decades as the country wrestled with repeated closures of cities to fight virus outbreaks.

There were no new market-boosting initiatives from the Communist Party congress, where Xi Jinping, the most powerful leader in decades, gained a free hand in setting policy. The ruling party named a seven-member Standing Committee made of Xi’s allies and dropped supporters of free enterprise like Premier Li Keqiang, the party’s No. 2 before the party’s once in five years congress.

Xi wants a bigger Communist Party role in business and technology development. That has prompted warnings tighter control of entrepreneurs who generate jobs and wealth will depress growth that already was in long-term decline.

The 6.4% plunge in Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index, to 15,180.69, took it to its lowest level since 2006.

The Shanghai Composite index shed 2.0% to 2,977.56.

Xi also gave no sign of plans to change the severe “zero-COVID” strategy that has crimped business and trade. He indicated no changes in policies straining relations with Washington and Asian neighbors.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.3% to finish at 26,974.90. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.5% to 6,779.40. South Korea’s Kospi gained 1.0% to 2,236.16.

Wall Street ended last week with a broad rally, with technology stocks, retailers and health care companies powering a big share of the gains.

The S&P 500 rose 2.4%, notching a weekly gain of 4.7%, its biggest such gain since June. The Dow climbed 2.5% and the Nasdaq composite added 2.3%. The Russell 2000 index rose 2.2%.

Investors have been focusing on corporate earnings as they search for clues about how inflation and rising interest rates are shaping global economies.

The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates another three-quarters of a percentage point at its meeting in November. That’s triple the size of the Fed’s usual move.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar rose to 149.28 Japanese yen from 147.65 yen. The Bank of Japan was reported to have intervened Friday to prop up the yen after the dollar rose above the 150 yen level. The dollar fell after the reported intervention but bounced back.

The euro cost 98.25 cents, down from 98.62 cents.

The dollar has gained in strength as the U.S. Federal Reserve has raised interest rates to fight inflation. Its growing strength against the yen and other currencies has added to inflationary pressures in those countries by pushing up the costs of imports and of debt repayments.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.32 to $83.73 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, declined to $1.29 to $92.21 a barrel.

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