Stocks are tepid as investors await new China economic data

Posted January 15, 2020 9:20 p.m. EST

— The first phase of the US-China trade deal is done. Now investors are awaiting more signals about economic growth.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.5%, and Japan's Nikkei 225 was slightly higher on Thursday. But China's Shanghai Composite and South Korea's Kospi were both a little lower during choppy trading.

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an initial trade deal with senior Chinese officials at the White House that that included pledges from Beijing to more than double its purchases from American farmers in the first year.

The agreement was signed as China's economy continues to grapple with a slowdown. The country is expected to disclose its full year growth figures for 2019 on Friday, which will give investors more clues about how the economy is doing.

In Hong Kong, Sa Sa International — the city's largest cosmetics retailer — said Wednesday that it plans to shut down 20% to 25% of its stores in the next 18 months because of the city's "unabated difficult operating environment." Hong Kong has experienced months of pro-democracy protests.

Sa Sa International's stock was slightly higher on Thursday, but shares plummeted more than 40% last year. Revenue for the most recent quarter was down 27% compared to a year earlier.

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