Hong Kong stocks rally after pro-democracy candidates score huge win

The Hang Seng Index rose 1.5 per cent.
The Hang Seng Index rose 1.5 per cent.PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Hong Kong stocks climbed after pro-democracy candidates swept the board in district council elections, putting pressure on the city's government to address issues that have fueled months of protests.

The Hang Seng Index was 1.5 per cent higher in early afternoon trading after opening above its 100-day moving average. The gain was led by developers and other stocks seen as most sensitive to the demonstrations. Analysts and investors also said the moves showed relief that the Sunday vote - which saw record turnout - went ahead peacefully.

With one more seat yet to be counted, pro-democracy politicians won at least 385 or 85 per cent of the 452 District Council seats in Sunday's district elections, compared with 58 for the pro-establishment camp. Democrats secured about 100 seats in the previous polls four years ago.

"The government will listen to the public's feedback with humility and reflect on it," Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in a midday statement.

"Investors expect that the result will prompt the government to respond some key issues with more reasonable measures," said Andy Wong, a fund manager at LW Asset Management. "If some of these issues could be handled peacefully and smoothly, then the market may have confidence that violence may stop in near future."

Wharf Real Estate Investment and Hang Lung Properties were among the top performers on Monday, while MTR Corp, which operates the city's underground railway, climbed 2.2 per cent. The MSCI Hong Kong Index gained 1.9 per cent.

"There is this relief that pro-democracy protesters are now being represented, and the government has to deal with this," said Airy Lau, an investment director at Fair Capital Management. "I don't think the government will respond in a harsh way."

Here's what others are saying about Monday's market reaction in Hong Kong:

• Stephen Innes, chief Asia market strategist at AxiTrader

It will be difficult for Beijing to ignore these results. The people have spoken, and now the ball is in Beijing's court.

• Banny Lam, head of research at CEB International Investment Corp

People are betting the Hong Kong government will do more to improve people's well-being, including more supply of public housing, job creation, and economic stimulus, to help boost confidence in the government and stop violence.

• Patrick Yiu, managing director at Cash Asset Management

The reaction among sectors like REITs and property is especially sharp. There's the optimism that the elections went smoothly, and it's affecting Hong Kong's companies.

• Tracy Chan, analyst at KGI Asia

There wasn't much conflict over the weekend. A stabler situation in local protests help boost market sentiment.

• Hao Hong, head of research at Bocom International:

Longer term, there is still little clarity as to Hong Kong's special status. Of course, markets want to rebound because this short-term uncertainty is out of the way. But fundamentally, not a lot has changed.