Hong Kong Stocks Under Pressure Near-Term, Manulife’s Li Says

Marco Li, Hong Kong-based portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management, which oversees $238 billion globally, comments on the outlook for Hong Kong stocks in the wake of an outbreak of a new strain of deadly bird flu in China.

“It’s tough because in investors’ minds a lot of people can remember SARS in 2003. There’s a bit of fear from what potentially can happen, especially in Hong Kong, because they do remember the magnitude of it.

‘‘Friday was clearly a bit of a panic sell, but it’s still early to tell if the decline was premature.

‘‘Some was trigger-happy-type of selling and you’ll get some fundamental buying support to some of the overreactions.

‘‘There’s going to be near-term pressure no matter how you cut it. You have this overhang now, and until you get clarity, people will see that as a potential risk for further exacerbation.

‘‘With some of the yen devaluing -- there’s a liquidity chasing that particular market so it diverts some of the attention away from North Asia as well as ASEAN. It creates a new liquidity shift.

‘‘In any type of market correction, you want to stay with the quality names that have liquidity to give you flexibility as an investor. There are longer-term inflation concerns, and equities are still the place to be.’’

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