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‘Golden Week’ lackluster as home sales plummet

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A pedestrian walks along a street in front of a view of residential blocks in Macau on Aug. 29. -- AFP

SHANGHAI/HONG KONG — China’s Golden Week is leaving investors flat as figures from home sales to Macau casino revenue disappoint.

Chinese property developers slumped in Hong Kong after the Economic Information Daily said new home sales tumbled in Beijing and Shanghai compared with a year earlier. Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. sank as much as 3.4%, with the Power Macao Gaming Association saying revenue was at best slightly higher versus the previous year. Hna-Caissa Travel Group Co. led losses by tourism-related stocks on the mainland after retail sales and restaurant receipts grew at a slower pace.

Investor optimism had been high that the holiday, dubbed “Super Golden Week” because it lasted eight days instead of the usual seven, would lead to bumper earnings. The MSCI China Index, which closed at a decade-high on Friday, fell 0.4% at 1:24 p.m. in Hong Kong. Investors instead shifted into stocks that had lagged behind this year, such as consumer staples.

China Evergrande Group slumped 3.5%, while Guangzhou R&F Properties Co. slid as much as 5.5%. New home sales in Beijing dropped to 116 units during the National Day holiday, the lowest since 2009, the Economic Information Daily reported, citing data from Centaline Property. New home sales in Shanghai plunged 78% to 178 units, according to the report, which also cited declining sales in Nanjing.

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Galaxy was among the biggest losers on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, while Sands China Ltd. dropped 2.2%. Although casinos were crowded, visitors didn’t necessarily gamble, said Stephen Lau, president of Power Macao Gaming Association, an organization that represents casino workers. “Gaming revenue for the holiday was flat compared with last year, or only grew slightly,” Mr. Lau said.

Hna-Caissa Travel and UTour Group Co. retreated more than 5%. Retail sales and restaurant receipts rose 10.3% during the holiday period, down from 10.7% last year and 11% in 2015, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

“Slower growth in retail sales hurt sentiment and led to consumer-linked shares’ underperformance today,” said Ken Chen, Shanghai based analyst with KGI Securities Co. “Investors are also selling down names that rallied before the holiday to lock in profits.” — Bloomberg

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