Hong Kong shares slip, infrastructure and financials lift China

Last Updated: Mon, Sep 24, 2012 09:10 hrs

* HSI down 0.2 pct, H-shares index down 0.4 pct

* Shanghai Comp up 0.3 pct, CSI300 up 0.8 pct

* China markets rebound after worst week in 11 months (updates to close)

By Vikram Subhedar

HONG KONG, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares, which rose each of the past three weeks, started the new one with a fall as investors locked in some gains ahead of the quarter-end while China markets rebounded slightly after their worst week in 11 months.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index ended the day down 0.2 percent while the China Enterprises index of top locally listed mainland firms fell 0.4 percent.

"You've had streaks of risk appetite and now there's some skepticism heading into the fourth quarter," said Tom Kaan, a director at Hong Kong-based Louis Capital Markets.

Shares of large-cap financials in Hong Kong saw profit-taking, after a strong run-up this month as part of a global rally in the sector fueled by major central bank efforts to ease policy.

HSBC Holdings fell 0.9 percent and was the top drag on the Hong Kong benchmark, which ended at 20,694.7. Still, HSBC shares are up 9.5 percent this month.

On the mainland, the CSI300 index of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen listings rose 0.8 percent. The Shanghai Composite was up 0.3 percent.

"In China the market is looking for some sort of conclusive stimulus and there's cause for optimism but we're in a sort of market in which a lot of people will see a 5 percent gain and will want to take some money off the table," said Kaan.

Last Thursday, Chinese stocks on the mainland hit their lowest levels since early 2009, spurring renewed talk that the government would take steps to prop up the market.

Chinese infrastructure-related sectors, particularly cement and construction-equipment makers, had healthy gains. Banks and insurers were the biggest boosts for the mainland stock markets.

Shares of heavy machinery maker Zoomlion Heavy Industry and Technology Ltd rose 3.4 percent in Shenzhen on Monday, leaving it up 2.2 percent this month. Hong Kong-listed Zoomlion gained 2.2 percent for the day, taking its gain for September -- during which it hit a 2012 low -- to 8.2 percent.

Sany Heavy Industry Co Ltd was up 2.1 percent on Monday in Shanghai.

Cement producer Anhui Conch was up 4.8 percent and the biggest gainer in top Hong Kong-listed Chinese shares.

Shares of top insurers, China Life and Ping An , seen as proxies for the domestic markets, were up 1.9 percent and 1.7 percent respectively and among the biggest supports for mainland indices.

Analysts at Citigroup remain cautious on Chinese equities, which are poised to lag Asian peers for a third year running as a slowing global and domestic economy takes a toll on corporate earnings and profit margins.

The Shanghai Composite is down 7.6 percent this year compared with an 11.8 percent rise for the MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan index.

"The underperformance of the Chinese equity market suggests that it has largely priced in no significant policy changes either to stabilize the economy in the near term or to rebalance the Chinese economy in the longer term," Citigroup analysts said in a note.

China's leadership transition, widely expected to get under way mid-October with the announcement of the date of the 18th Party Congress, might pave the way for more conclusive steps from Beijing to support the economy and the market, according to the analysts. (Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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