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Aug 13, 2019

Hong Kong ETF turnover set for highest since 2014 amid turmoil

Hong Kong protests

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Trading in the largest exchange-traded fund tracking Hong Kong stocks jumped to a five-year high as protests in the city intensified.

The iShares MSCI Hong Kong ETF, or EWH, saw its volume soar to 25 million shares on Tuesday in New York -- the most since August 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Since demonstrations escalated in June, the US$1.4 billion fund has lost about 40 per cent of its assets.

After protesters brought the city’s airport to a standstill on Monday, investors grew increasingly alarmed by the fallout from 10 weeks of anti-government rallies that showed no sign of letting up. The short-term worry is that Hong Kong’s economy is headed for a recession as local turmoil combines with the U.S.-China trade war to pummel retail sales, weigh on real estate prices and sink the city’s US$4.9 trillion stock market.

After hitting the lowest level since January, EWH climbed on Tuesday as the Trump administration de-escalated its dispute with China -- sparking demand for risk assets that had been under pressure.