Hong Kong culls chickens, suspends imports after H7 bird flu found

31 Dec 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

Asian Shares Mostly Flat.

HONG KONG—Hong Kong stepped up its fight against bird flu on New Year eve, as government workers began to cull some 15,000 chickens in a wholesale poultry market on Wednesday and banned live poultry imports from China.Stocks in Asia hovered close to flat Wednesday, as a gauge of China’s manufacturing activity reaffirmed a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.

The moves came after the city’s health authorities Wednesday confirmed a strain of bird flu virus in a batch of live chickens imported from southern China’s Guangdong province. The index is on track to close the year up 50%, buoyed by expectations that China’s central bank stands ready to ease monetary policy after an interest-rate cut this year accelerated gains. The city occasionally detects bird flu in poultry, but there have been no major outbreaks since 1997, when the H5N1 bird flu strain killed six people and led to the slaughter of 1.5 million birds in the territory. Despite a strong preference in Cantonese cooking for freshly-slaughtered meat, the number of vendors selling live chickens in the city has shrunk to around 130 in 2012, from more than 800 in 2004.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 and Taiwan’s Taiex were all roughly flat, while Japan’s market is closed for the New Year’s Eve holiday.

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