SHANGHAI, Dec 24 (Reuters) - China stocks inched lower on Thursday, dragged by tech shares after Beijing launched an anti-trust probe into Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group.
** China’s blue-chip index CSI300 fell 0.1% to 5,000.02, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.6% to 3,363.11. ** The tech heavy STAR Market dropped 2.1%, while the CSI TMT Index fell 1.5%. ** Investor confidence in the tech sector was hit by news that China launched an antitrust investigation into Alibaba’s e-commerce and fintech empire.
** The probe is part of an accelerating crackdown on monopolistic behaviour in China’s booming internet space, and the latest setback for Alibaba founder Jack Ma.
** Spooked investors dumped shares of Alibaba’s subsidiaries and affiliates, as well as other internet firms that risk being targeted by Chinese anti-trust regulators.
** Shanghai-listed Hundsun Technologies Inc, partly owned by Alibaba, tumbled 6.6%. E-commerce company Suning.com fell 4%.
** “Antitrust (probe) is a strong signal from the government to guide the development focus of those internet tycoons,” said Vincent Wang, a Shanghai-based partner specialising in antitrust regulators at Global Law Office.
** The healthcare, natural resources and energy sectors rose, while consumer and environmental protection stocks fell.
** Sentiment in broader Asia was lifted by news that Britain and the European Union were on the cusp of striking a narrow trade deal on Thursday, which would help avoid shipping and travel chaos on both sides of the English Channel. (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)