Hong Kong shares slip in holiday-thinned trade, China at multi-week lows

Last Updated: Wed, Apr 03, 2013 11:01 hrs

* HSI -0.1 pct, H-shares -0.5 pct, CSI300 -0.1 pct

* CNOOC slides on possible lower China fuel prices

* Yingde Gas slumps on balance sheet concerns, broker downgrades

* HK closed Thursday, China shut for 4-day weekend

By Clement Tan

HONG KONG, April 3 (Reuters) - Hong Kong and China shares slipped on Wednesday led by weakness in the Chinese energy sector as a result of lower oil prices, in thin trade ahead of a holiday break.

The Hang Seng Index fell 0.1 percent, while the China Enterprises Index of the leading Chinese listings in Hong Kong dropped 0.5 percent in the weakest bourse turnover since Feb. 18.

The CSI300 of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen listings slipped 0.1 percent to its lowest closing level since mid-January. The Shanghai Composite Index inched down 0.1 percent at 2,225.3. They each shed 0.5 percent this week.

Losses on Wednesday came in Shanghai volume some 20 percent below its average in the last month. Mainland China markets are closed from Thursday and will resume trading on April 8, while Hong Kong is only shut Thursday and will reopen on Friday.

"It's rather quiet today partly because of the holiday tomorrow," said Jackson Wong, Tanrich Securities' vice-president for equity sales. "We need a catalyst to break out of the range-bound trade of the last two weeks."

That could come as soon as next week when China is due to start releasing a slew of monthly and quarterly economic data. March data for inflation data is due on April 9 and trade on April 10 with money supply expected between April 10 and 15.

First quarter GDP growth data is due on April 15 along with industrial output, retail sales and urban investment data for March. Data on Wednesday showed growth in China's services sector rose to multi-month highs in March.

From a peak on Feb. 6, the CSI300 has now tumbled 10.5 percent and the Shanghai Composite has slid 8.6 percent. The Shanghai benchmark closed on Wednesday just above its 100-day moving average at 2,221.8.

Both mainland Chinese indexes have traded above this technical level since December. A close below this support level could point to further near-term weakness.


Chinese oil giant CNOOC sank 0.9 percent, but traded in a range that has bounded its stock price for more than a week. Local media reported that fuel prices could fall next week, following the adoption of a new petroleum pricing framework announced last week.

Brent crude slipped toward $110 a barrel on Wednesday, dropping for a second straight day, as swelling oil inventories in the United States and recent weak data fueled worries about demand from the world's top consumer.

Yingde Gases suffered its worst daily loss since its 2009 listing debut, plunging 13.9 percent in heavy volume after it announced plans for a $150 million notes offering from its Yingde Gases Investment unit.

The stock was also hit by downgrades from CLSA, Morgan Stanley and UBS, with CLSA citing balance sheet fears after the company reported its net gearing surged to 95 percent in 2012 from 45 percent a year before.

The battered Chinese banking sector was an outperformer in the A-share market. China Merchants Bank climbed 1.8 percent in Shanghai, helped by news reports that Chinese regulators have approved its acquisition of a 50 percent stake in insurer CIGNA-CMC.

Shares of China Minsheng Bank rose 0.5 percent in Shanghai, but remained bounded in a range it has been trading in the last week after it tumbled 8.8 percent on March 28 after regulators announced a crackdown on financial risk.

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