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Hong Kong shares erase most of this week's gains, underperform China

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Fri, Mar 01, 2013 09:10 hrs

* HSI down 0.6 pct on the day, up 0.4 for the week

* CSI300 slips 0.2 pct on Friday, up 2.8 pct this week

* Citic Pacific hit by broker price target reductions

* Chinese insurers sink after China Life's profit warning

* Chalco slides in HSI exit, replacement Lenovo jumps

By Clement Tan

HONG KONG, March 1 (Reuters) - Hong Kong and China shares saw their weekly gains reduced on Friday after Chinese manufacturing data came in below expectations and was the weakest since September.

Friday's losses came after stocks had their biggest daily gains in weeks the previous day. Chinese insurers slid after China Life Insurance , the sector's largest player, warned of a 40 percent decline in 2012 net profit.

The Hang Seng Index shed 0.6 percent to 22,880.2, paring this week's rise to 0.4 percent. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings shed 0.8 percent on the day, but inched up 0.2 percent this week.

In the mainland, the CSI300 of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings inched down 0.2 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.3 percent. This week, they rose 2.8 and 2 percent, respectively.

"The China PMI today wasn't much of a deal, but coming after Thursday's strong gains, it was a catalyst for some profit taking," said Jackson Wong, Tanrich Securities' vice-president for equity sales.

Growth-sensitive counters were broadly weaker after China's official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) eased to 50.1 after seasonal adjustments. The five-month low was weaker than a 50.2 Reuters poll consensus and down from January's 50.4 level.

Shares of Citic Pacific dived 5.5 percent in Hong Kong, hit by target price reductions from brokerages including Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, Citi and UBS. Targets were cut after the steel-to-property conglomerate posted disappointing full year 2012 results on Thursday.

Citic Pacific, whose shares have fallen each of the past three years, is now down 2.6 percent in 2013. Citi analysts said the company remains highly geared and will need to borrow more given its current capital expenditure and annual dividend commitments.

Sun Hung Kai Properties sank 1.9 percent after the world's second-largest property developer by market cap gave weaker-than-anticipated sales guidance despite trumping first half earnings expectations.

FINANCIALS BEAR BRUNT OF JITTERS

Losses in Shanghai came in volume just shy of its 20-day moving average as China's key money rate stormed to its highest level this year on Friday. The rate's rise increased worries about policy tightening as the central bank looks to restrain bank lending.

Chinese banks were among the biggest index drags. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China shed 0.9 percent in Hong Kong and 1 percent in Shanghai. China Life Insurance lost 0.6 percent in Hong Kong and 2.9 percent in Shanghai.

Chinese property counters were also weak on renewed tightening fears after a private survey showed average home prices in the 100 biggest cities rose for the ninth straight month in February, though the pace of increase slowed.

Reversing strong gains on Thursday, Poly Real Estate lost 1.5 percent in Shanghai and China Overseas Land declined 1.9 percent in Hong Kong.

China's property market has been rife with speculation about rising house prices and what the country's new leadership may do to curb them once it takes office next week, testing investors' nerves.

The annual Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and National People's Congress, where Xi Jinping is expected to be confirmed as president, start in Beijing on March 3 and 5, respectively.

Lenovo Group jumped 3.9 percent as passive funds bought into shares of the Chinese PC maker, which is replacing replace Aluminum Corporation of China (Chalco) as a Hang Seng Index component. Chalco dived 4.8 percent.

Haitong Securities' H-share listing, which will replace ZTE on the China Enterprises Index, rose 0.5 percent. ZTE tumbled 3.6 percent in Hong Kong.




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