Hong Kong shares return to lowest in a month, China nears 2012 lows

Last Updated: Thu, Nov 15, 2012 09:10 hrs

* HSI -1.6 pct, H-shares -2 pct, CSI300 -1.3 pct

* Turnover higher vs Wednesday, but still below average

* Tencent have worst day in 13 mths after earnings miss

* Esprit surges 22 pct after ex-chairman doubled stake

By Clement Tan

HONG KONG, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Hong Kong and Chinese shares fell to multi-week lows on Thursday, reversing gains in the previous session, as investors, unsure about the policies of the country's new leadership team, reduced their exposure to risk.

China's ruling Communist Party unveiled an older, conservative new leadership line-up on Thursday that appears unlikely to take the drastic action needed to tackle pressing issues like social unrest, environmental degradation and corruption.

The Hang Seng Index ended down 1.6 percent at 21,108.9, breaking below the chart resistance of about 21,200, the 23.6 percent Fibonacci retracement of its rise from September lows to November highs, pointing to further weakness ahead.

The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong shed 2 percent. It has now slid 6 percent from a Nov. 2 high. Both indexes closed at their lowest level since Oct. 11.

In the mainland, the CSI300 Index of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen listings closed down 1.3 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.2 percent.

Both indexes closed at their lowest since Sept. 26, with the CSI300 and Shanghai Composite indexes just 0.4 and 1.3 percent from their respective lowest closing levels this year.

Thursday's losses in both Hong Kong and China came as turnover increased over the previous session, but still some way below the average in the past 30 days.

"Historically, markets have trended downwards for about a month after major party congress meetings where there's a handover like this, but the outlook on a six-month basis is more positive," Alan Lam, Julius Baer's Greater China equity analyst, told Reuters.

"Recent inflows into China equities won't leave, although fresh ones might slow down a little from here because of concerns over the U.S. fiscal situation," Lam added.

Shares of internet giant, Tencent Holdings, slumped 7 percent to their lowest level since mid-September after it reported that efforts to expand into new businesses hit margins and the number of fee-paying users for its Internet services fell.

This was Tencent's worst day in more than 13 months. It has now slid 10.4 percent from a Nov. 2 high, but is still up 59.6 percent this year. This compares to the 14.5 percent rise on the Hang Seng Index in 2012.

New China Life Insurance slumped 4.6 percent in heavy volumes to close at its lowest since Sept. 26.

A trader at a major European brokerage said investors were bailing out on the stock after it failed to be included as a component stock on the MSCI China index.

Counters that will be excluded from the MSCI China index after market close on Nov 30 were mostly weaker. China Rongsheng lost 2.7 percent, while China Yurun Food declined 1.8 percent.


Shares of Esprit Holdings surged 22 percent after its former chairman doubled his take in the ailing Europe-focused fashion retailer, fuelling hopes he would play a bigger role in the company.

This was Esprit's best day since Aug. 7 and took its shares to the highest level since mid-May, although it finished off the day's highs.

Esprit's strength was an outlier in an otherwise weak market, that had opened lower following steep losses on Wall Street overnight.

Growth-sensitive sectors, which outperformed on Wednesday, were all weaker on the day.

Aluminum Corporation of China (Chalco) shed 2.6 percent in Hong Kong and 2.6 percent in Shanghai, while China Shenhua Energy Co Ltd lost 2.1 percent in Hong Kong and 2.2 percent in Shanghai.

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