Alibaba stock pops 7% in Hong Kong debut

Alibaba’s stock popped 7% during the Chinese e-commerce company’s debut in Hong Kong.

Shares were last trading at 188.10 Hong Kong dollars ($24.03), higher than the 176 Hong Kong dollars ($22.50) they were priced at. The company’s secondary listing could raise as much as $12.9 billion, making it the largest public offering so far this year.

Alibaba trades under the stock code 9988 in Hong Kong. Nine and eight are considered to be lucky numbers in the Chinese culture, indicating long-lasting prosperity.

There’s been a lot of enthusiasm for the company’s arrival on the Hong Kong market. The offering has overperformed — a vote of confidence in Hong Kong, the Asian financial hub that has grappled with months of protests.

The listing also affords Alibaba the ability to impress Beijing in a big way. It’s a symbolic homecoming for a company that made its initial public trading debut in New York but is one of China’s technological crown jewels.

“We have come home,” Alibaba said Tuesday morning on its official account on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. The Weibo announcement also featured cartoon representations of the many animal mascots that Alibaba uses to represent its businesses — such as Tmall’s black cat and and Ant Financial’s ant.

“Five years ago, we said, if conditions permit, we will for sure return,” said Daniel Zhang, chairman and chief executive officer of Alibaba Group, at Tuesday’s listing ceremony. While Hong Kong was Alibaba’s initial choice when it first wanted to tap the public market, the company chose New York because of a disagreement over alibaba’s shareholding structure.

Thanks to “capital market reform,” Zhang said, “we can make up for the regret five years ago when we missed Hong Kong.”

Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index (HSI) opened 0.7% higher. It then reversed the gains and traded down 0.1%.

And Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing (HKXCF), the city’s sole exchange operator, was up as much as 1.8%. But it also erased early gains and dropped 0.5% in late morning trade. Chinese internet giant Tencent (TCEHY) — Alibaba’s biggest domestic rival — fell 0.5%.

Alibaba’s (BABA) US-listed shares closed up nearly 2% Monday on the New York Stock Exchange. Its IPO there in 2014 raised $25 billion and shattered records as the largest in history. (Saudi Aramco could soon surpass it.)

Elsewhere in the region, South Korea’s Kospi index (KOSPI) added 0.5%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 (N225) rose 0.3%. China’s Shanghai Composite (COMP) opened higher, but traded nearly flat around noon.

Investors may be looking out for more developments on US-China trade talks. China’s top trade negotiator Liu He had a phone talk with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday morning, according to a statement by China’s Ministry of Commerce.

Both sides “reached a consensus” on how to resolve each other’s key concerns, the statement said.

They also agreed to maintain contact about a phase one deal.

US futures moved slightly higher during Asian trading hours Tuesday. The Dow (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) were all up 0.1%.

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