Hong Kong one-hundred dollar banknotes are arranged for a photograph. (Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg)

Hong Kong Stocks Decline From the Highest Level Since July 2015

(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong stocks fell from the highest level since July 2015 as insurers retreated. China Shenhua Energy Co. climbed amid merger speculation.

The Hang Seng Index declined 0.2 percent to 25,868.94 at 10:00 a.m. local time, with Ping An Insurance Group Co. and China Life Insurance Co. leading losses among insurers. Shenhua was the gauge’s biggest gainer after people with knowledge of the matter said its parent and China Guodian Corp. are in discussions for a $267 billion merger. Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. climbed for a seventh day, building on a 23-year high. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.4 percent.

While China’s deleveraging campaign has weighed on mainland investor sentiment over the past few months, strength in global markets and improving earnings have supported Hong Kong’s stocks. A stronger currency and the increasing weight of technology shares spurred Morgan Stanley to raise its 12-month forecast for the city’s benchmark to 28,000 from 26,000 in a note dated Sunday.

Guodian Technology & Environment Group Corp., a unit of China Guodian, surged as much as 25 percent, the biggest intraday advance since the stock’s trading debut in 2011. China Longyuan Power Group Corp. rose 5.3 percent, the most since August.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Kana Nishizawa in Hong Kong at knishizawa5@bloomberg.net.

With assistance from Kana Nishizawa