In Asia Thursday Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.4% to 20,138 and China's Shanghai Composite dipped 0.4% to 2,560 after a three-day holiday. In Japan the Nikkei 225 Index lost 0.7%, ending the day at 9,999.
Luxury developer Henderson Land sank 2.3% today on the news that sales of several apartments in its new 39 Conduit Road building (pictured) in Hong Kong's Mid-Levels have fallen through. The canceled deals include the sale of a $57 million penthouse apartment touted as the most expensive real estate in the world at $11,295 per square foot when the deal was made last October.
According to the Financial Times, the penthouse buyer also scrapped five other purchases within the building. Henderson Land said a total of 20 deals for apartments in the tower were abandoned and the company will take a charge of $94 million against its earnings.
Some have taken the news of the botched deals as a sign that measures to cool Hong Kong's property market may be working. Among other restrictions, buyers now have to put down 40% of the purchase price and have a shorter period of time to complete their purchases. But other Hong Kong developers gained today: New World Development climbed 1.8%, Sino Land was up 1%, Sun Hung Kai advanced 0.9% and Cheung Kong inched up 0.3%.
Clothing and shoe exporters gained ground with Li & Fung, supplier of merchandise to America's Abercrombie shops and Wal-Mart and Target mega-stores, surging 4.4% and Li Ning, a shoe and clothing manufacturer, also soaring 4.4%. Yue Yuen, which makes popular lines for Nike, Adidas and Puma, rose 3.8%.
Other big winners on the Hong Kong board included Standard Chartered, which gained 4.1% and Cnooc, which rose 2.3%.
In China, shares in drug companies plunged. Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine, which distributes pain killers, antibiotics and tumor drugs mainly to Chinese customers, slumped 8%. Shandong Dong-E E-Jiao, a traditional medicine company that specializes in making a gelatinous substance from donkey skin used as a remedy for blood disorders, sank 4.5%.
Steel producers also led the major index lower. Maanshan Iron & Steel and Hebei Iron & Steel both sank 1.2% and Baoshan Iron & Steel declined 1% after predictions that prices could fall.
In Japan, exporters suffered after U.S. data showed a decline in housing starts. Sony sank 2.8% and Panasonic fell 2.6%. Pioneer dropped 2.5% and Casio Computer declined 2.3%.
Car companies closed lower with Mazda down 2.5%, Toyota losing 1.1% and Honda declining 0.8%. Alps Electric, which makes electronic parts for cars, dived 2.6% and Jtekt, a provider of Toyota parts slid 0.7%.
Meanwhile, Nintendo continued yesterday's upward trajectory, rocketing up 5.2% today on the tails of this week's unveiling of the 3DS, Nintendo's latest hand-held device, which is scheduled to appear in shops later this year. If Americans don't buy Japan's cars, they may be content to zip around in their virtual ones.
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