SHANGHAI, Aug 18 (Reuters) - China and Hong Kong stocks fell
on Thursday, hit by increasingly grim growth prospects for the
world's second-largest economy suffering from COVID-19
outbreaks, a property crisis, a record heat wave and limited
room for monetary easing.
** China's blue-chip CSI300 Index dropped 0.9%,
while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.5%. Hong
Kong's Hang Seng benchmark fell 0.6%.
** Nomura lowered its China economic growth forecast, citing
dismal July activity data, the lingering impact from the
pandemic, and the worst heave wave in six decades.
** "(The) policy response might be too little, too late and
too inefficient," said Nomura, which slashed China's growth
forecast to 2.9% for the third quarter, from 4.0%. 2023 GDP
forecast is also lowered, to 5.1%, from 5.5%, and Nomura expects
"a new round of cuts" in coming weeks by other brokerages.
** "Virus outbreaks are happening with increasing frequency.
The housing market remains in a downward spiral. And exports
look set to drop back before long," wrote Julian
Evans-Pritchard, senior China Economist at Capital Economics.
** "More support is on its way but it will probably be too
late too little to prevent output from stagnating this year."
** Also, China's central bank faces limited room to
manoeuvre due to worries over rising inflation and capital
flight, policy insiders and analysts said.
** U.S. Federal Reserve officials steeled themselves to
force the economy to slow down with more rate hikes to fight
inflation, according to the minutes of the latest policy
** Increasing divergence in Sino-U.S. monetary policies
could trigger capital flight out of China.
** Most sectors in China fell, but the start-up board
ChiNext rose 0.2%, while the tech-heavy STAR 50
Index gained 1%.
** EVE Energy Co jumped 3%, after Reuters
reported that the Chinese battery maker will supply BMW
with large cylindrical batteries for its electric cars
** Hong Kong's Hang Seng Tech Index fell 0.9%, but
Tencent rose 3.1%, after the Chinese tech giant
promised a return to growth, following its first-ever quarterly
(Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Rashmi Aich)