Hong Kong, China shares fall to week low; Li Ning slumps

Last Updated: Fri, Jan 25, 2013 09:30 hrs

* HSI slips 0.1 pct on the day, down 0.1 pct on the week

* CSI300 down 0.4 pct on Friday, down 0.9 pct this week

* AIA climbs, China railway counters suffer stiff weekly losses in HK

* Moutai at lowest close in a year after 2012 profit underwhelms

By Clement Tan

HONG KONG, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Hong Kong and China shares fell to their lowest in more than a week on Friday as investors took profit on outperformers after a strong start to the year faltered on the charts as profit warnings trickled in ahead of the corporate earnings season.

Laggard counters that trailed the rally from lows late last year rose this week as investors took profit on the Chinese financial and railway sectors. Technology stocks also suffered from Apple Inc's underwhelming earnings.

The Hang Seng Index slipped 0.1 percent on Friday to 23,580.4. It had closed at a 20-month high on Tuesday, but failed to close above chart resistance at about 23,708, the peak on May 31, 2011. The benchmark lost 0.1 percent this week.

The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong shed 0.8 percent on the day and 0.9 percent on the week. Bourse turnover in Hong Kong was at its highest on Friday in two weeks.

In the mainland, the CSI300 of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings closed down 0.4 percent at 2,571.7. The Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.5 percent in bourse volumes that was 43 percent lower than Thursday's.

They slid 0.9 and 1.1 percent this week, respectively, after a sharp intra-day reversal on Thursday left both onshore indexes vulnerable technically to more losses in the near term. All four indexes closed on Friday at their lowest since Jan. 17.

"The strong rally from lows (in Hong Kong) has been largely driven by liquidity inflows. There is no deep conviction in this rebound," David Cui, Bank of America-Merril Lynch's China equity strategist said at a media briefing in Hong Kong.

Cui added that with corporate earnings expected to disappoint, further index gains will likely rely on a change in risk perception towards China. At least 28 companies listed in Hong Kong posted profit warnings this week so far.

China Life Insurance dived 3 percent in Hong Kong and 3.2 percent in Shanghai. Losses on Friday prodded its Hong Kong shares below a range it had been bound for most of January, suggesting further losses could be in store.

China Railway Group (CRG) and China Railway Construction (CRC) snapped a six-day losing streak in Hong Kong on Friday, rebounding 1.2 and 0.5 percent, respectively.

But CRG lost 6.3 percent this week, its worst weekly showing since May and CRC suffered its worst weekly loss in 14 months, diving 9.9 percent. Both stocks had been stellar outperformers in 2012, surging 86 and 106 percent, respectively.

Investors rolled into laggards such as Asian insurance giant AIA Group, which on Friday rose 0.3 percent to its highest close since Jan. 4, attracted to the safety of its earnings growth in a week littered with profit warnings.

There were also gains for Hong Kong property developers this week, although some sector names are now at their most technically overbought levels in years after closing at all-time highs.

New World Development inched up 0.1 percent to another record closing high. Its win in a tender for a railway property project in Hong Kong on Wednesday and a Citi upgrade on Thursday helped New World to a near 5 percent gain this week.

But its relative strength index (RSI) value is at most overbought level since August 2003.


Shares of China Unicom, the country's second-largest mobile operator, dived 3.5 percent to its lowest in a month after official Chinese media reported government data that could suggest an increasingly saturated market.

China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said the number of mobile phone users hit 1.1 billion at the end of 2012. That also put shares of China Mobile and China Telecom under pressure.

They each fell 1.2 and 1.4 percent, respectively, adding to losses on Thursday after JP Morgan downgraded its price target for China Mobile and Apple Inc's disappointing earnings hit Unicom, the country's major iPhone carrier.

Chinese sportswear brand Li Ning posted its worst single day loss since July 2011, slumping 14.7 percent after the company said it would issue up to $241 million in convertible securities to fund its restructuring.

Before Friday, Li Ning had risen almost 69 percent from a Sept. 5 low, far outpacing the 23 percent jump on the Hang Seng Index, despite lingering inventory issues.

In Shanghai, Kweichow Moutai fell 3.5 percent to its lowest closing level in a year after advising late on Thursday that its 2012 profit rose by a smaller-than-expected 50 percent.

Shares of the producer of premium white spirits, which Chinese people often offer as gifts, has been hard hit by escalating anti-corruption calls from Chinese leaders and a contamination scare that has worsened overproduction issues.

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