Hong Kong shares slip, China hovers at lowest since early 2009

Last Updated: Tue, Nov 20, 2012 09:30 hrs

* HSI -0.2 pct, H-shares -0.6 pct, CSI300 -0.5 pct

* Shanghai volume at weakest in nearly a year

* Citic Pacific hammered after injunction against Clive Palmer

* Foxconn up; Digitimes says new iPhone, iPad due in mid-2013

By Clement Tan

HONG KONG, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Chinese shares fell in weak trading on Tuesday, dragging down Hong Kong markets, after data showed that direct foreign investment in China fell for a 10th straight month and big Chinese consumer firms reported weak results.

The Hang Seng Index closed down 0.2 percent, while the China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong shed 0.5 percent in their first loss in three days.

In the mainland, the CSI300 Index of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen listings had a fourth-straight loss, sliding 0.5 percent to its lowest close since March 2009. The Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.4 percent.

Foreign direct investment inflows into China fell 3.5 percent in the first 10 months of the year from a year ago, extending the longest run of decline in three years, affecting sentiment in the market.

Shanghai volume was at its lowest in almost a year, as money rates inched higher as the central bank allowed a slight net drain of funds, with banks and companies preparing for a spike in demand for cash at the end of the month.

Hong Kong turnover was the highest in three sessions, but was still some 11 percent below its average in the past month.

"There is no support in Hong Kong today partly due to the low turnover," said Edward Huang, an equity strategist with Haitong International Securities.

He added that the weak FDI data did little to boost confidence, already fragile in the A-share market after the Shanghai Composite Index dipped below 2,000 in intra-day trade on Monday.

Chinese financials led the reversal, as losses for Ping An Insurance deepened following a confirmation by HSBC that it is in talks to sell a $9.3 billion stake in China's second-largest insurer.

Ping An shed 1.2 percent in Hong Kong and 3.2 percent in Shanghai, partly suffering from weak A-share markets. Chinese insurers such as Ping An are seen as proxy plays on mainland stock markets given their high levels of investment there.

The Chinese consumer sector was again mostly weak after GOME Electrical Appliances posted late on Monday weak third-quarter earnings, following the lead of Parkson Retail Group and Tingyi Holdings.

GOME and Tingyi each lost 3.7 percent, while Parkson lost another 5 percent after diving 8.8 percent on Monday.

Food and beverage giant Tingyi slid to HK$22.10, its lowest close since Aug. 22, also hurt by a JP Morgan downgrade after its underwhelming third quarter earnings on Monday.

JP Morgan analysts downgraded Tingyi from "neutral" to "underweight", while reducing their June 2013 price target from HK$18.00 to HK$16.00, saying the premium it typically trades over its sector peers is now "stretched".

"We find decelerating sales growth in beverages disappointing, especially in the case of Tingyi which typically trades at a premium to the sector due to its stable double-digit sales growth," they said in the same note.

Citic Pacific tumbled 4.3 percent after it filed a court injunction against Australian mining tycoon Clive Palmer over disputed royalties at the $8 billion Sino Iron project in Western Australia, the latest in a long list of hurdles for the troubled project.

China's Longfor Properties sank 4.2 percent on concerns of a change of management control after local media reported its chairwoman's recent divorce from her husband.


Bucking broader market weakness, Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings rose 2.3 percent, rebounding from a two-month low set on Monday after rival, Nasdaq-listed Sina Corp SINA.O, soared 7.8 percent overnight.

Chinese media reported that Alibaba Group, the country's largest e-commerce company, planned to buy a stake in Sina's popular "Weibo" microblogging service.

Foxconn International gained 3.3 percent in relatively heavy volume after IT news outlet Digitimes reported Apple suppliers will enjoy a particularly strong first quarter next year with Apple expected to introduce its next generation iPad and iPhone series in mid-2013.

There has been no official confirmation that Foxconn International, which assembles handsets for the likes of Nokia Oyj, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp , is now also an Apple supplier, but a Citi report in early November had raised hopes of that.

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