(Updates to midday break)
SHANGHAI, March 20 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares fell on Monday, tracking Asian markets as fears of a global banking crisis remained even after a rescue deal for Credit Suisse and concerted efforts by central banks to restore confidence.
China stocks, meanwhile, edged higher following Beijing’s fresh monetary-easing measures to support economic growth.
** Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index slumped 2.6% by the end of the morning session, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index lost 2.2%.
** China’s blue-chip CSI300 Index and the Shanghai Composite Index both gained 0.1%.
** Investors remained fearful about what could happen next after a week in which a systemic lender in one of Europe’s financial capitals was brought to its knees by the turmoil in the bond market resulting from the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, sending Asian shares lower.
** Over the weekend, UBS said it would buy Credit Suisse for 3 billion francs ($3.2 billion) and assume up to $5.4 billion in losses, a shotgun merger engineered by Swiss authorities that investors hope can head off an even bigger mess in global markets.
** Tech giants listed in Hong Kong tumbled 2.9%, while healthcare stocks plunged 4.1%.
** Investors also closely watched Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Russia, as Beijing touts a plan to end the grinding Ukraine war that has received a lukewarm welcome on both sides.
** Qi Wang, CEO of MegaTrust Investment (HK), said if Xi could engineer a possible end to the Russia-Ukraine war, the No.1 overhang on Hong Kong stocks right now - the geopolitical tension between China and the West - could be removed.
** China’s central bank said on Friday it would cut the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves for the first time this year to help keep liquidity ample and support a nascent economic recovery.
** China’s media firms jumped 4%, and semiconductor companies added 2.1%. (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Subhranshu Sahu)
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