Hong Kong shares slip, China little changed ahead of data, policy moves

Last Updated: Fri, Sep 07, 2012 17:03 hrs

(Updates to midday)

* HSI slips 0.2 pct, CSI300 inches up 0.1 pct

* Turnover weak ahead of ECB meeting and key China, U.S. data

* China railway sector surge after Beijing project approval

* Goldman Sachs trim expected returns from Chinese equities

By Clement Tan

HONG KONG, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares slipped at midday on Thursday while onshore Chinese markets were little changed as news of more infrastructure spending in the mainland failed to spur investors back into the market ahead of several policy-related events.

Turnover stayed weak ahead of a European Central Bank meeting later in the day, U.S. payrolls data on Friday and fresh China data over the weekend. Attention has turned to central banks for easing cues, with first half corporate earnings mostly out of the way.

The Shanghai Composite Index and the CSI300 Index of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen listings each edged up 0.1 percent at midday. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong slipped 0.1 percent.

The Hang Seng Index closed down 0.2 percent at 19,110.2, hovering at its lowest levels since July 26. It has now slipped 5.8 percent since hitting Aug. 14 highs, but is still up 3.7 percent on the year.

"It's fashionable to be bearish right now, but I think investors should be positioned for a short-term bounce. At least one of ECB, the Fed or PBoC will move to ease policy in some way," said Hong Hao, chief strategist at Bank of Communications International Securities.

Beijing has abstained from formal policy easing such as cuts to interest rates and bank reserve requirements, instead resorting to investing in infrastructure projects to stem the slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.

On Friday, the Chinese railway was strong after state-run media reported that China's top economic planning body has approved 25 rail projects that could be worth more than 700 billion yuan ($110.3 billion).

CSR Corp jumped 8 percent in Hong Kong and 3.4 percent in Shanghai. China Railway Construction soared 6.2 percent in Hong Kong and 4.2 percent in Shanghai.

Most railway sector stocks have outperformed the broader market this year. China Railway Construction is up 18.5 percent in Shanghai this year, compared to the 6.1 percent loss on the CSI300 Index.

Goldman Sachs analysts pared their near-term return forecast for Chinese equities on Thursday, while moving China from "overweight" to "market weight" on a regional basis on delays in policy action.

Their three-month target for the CSI300 Index is 2,350, about 5 percent higher than the current 2202 level, and the 9,100 for the China Enterprises Index, about 2 percent lower than the current 9013.7.


The Macau casino sector was broadly weaker, with Sands China shedding 3.5 percent and Wynn Macau losing 4.4 percent with traders attributing the decline to weakening baccarat revenue, the top money spinner for the sector.

The Hong Kong property sector was also weak with Sun Hung Kai Properties down 0.9 percent and Hang Lung Property shedding 1.9 percent.

In a note on Thursday, Citi analysts said the sector could see further weakness in stock prices. They expect concerns over more controls on the sector to curb rising housing prices because measures announced last week are unlikely to lower prices. (Additional reporting by Vikram Subhedar; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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