(Updates to midday)
* HSI inches up 0.1 pct, but fails at chart resistance
* H-shares down 0.5 pct, CSI300 slumps 2.5 pct, Shanghai
sheds 2.1 pct
* China property weak, disappointing housing sales in Sept
* Japan-related names weak, hit by anti-Japan sentiment
By Clement Tan
HONG KONG, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares held at
4-1/2-month highs on Monday, with strength in Chinese oil giant
CNOOC Ltd offsetting falls in Chinese property
counters, which weakened after news reports pointing to a sharp
drop in home sales in Beijing.
The Hang Seng Index closed up 0.1 percent at
20,658.1, the highest since early May, but the market had failed
to hold onto early gains despite opening above chart resistance
at 20,674.5, the lower end of a gap between May 4 and 7.
The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese
listings in Hong Kong ended down 0.5 percent at 9,780.9.
In the mainland, the CSI300 Index of the top
Shanghai and Shenzhen listings shed 2.5 percent, its worst loss
since June 4. The Shanghai Composite Index lost 2.1
percent, its worst loss since July 9.
News reports quoting data from the Beijing Municipal
Construction Committee showing property sales in the city during
the first two weeks of September slipped sharply fed fears that
curbs on the sector had hit sales harder than expected in the
peak September-October season.
Sentiment was also hurt by the ongoing anti-Japan protests
in the mainland, with sharp falls in stock prices of Chinese
automakers with close working ties with Japanese firms like of
Toyota, Honda and Nissan. Guangzhou Automobile
plummetted 6.1 percent in Shanghai and Dongfeng
Motor dived 7 percent in Hong Kong.
Strength in some defensive sectors and low trading interest
further pointed to risk aversion. Turnover in Hong Kong on
Monday declined 24 percent from Friday, while volume in Shanghai
dropped 16 percent from Friday to the lowest in seven sessions.
"In this jittery market, everything is driven by sentiment
right now," said Hong Hao, chief strategist at Bank of
Communictions International Securities.
Hong said investors should hold onto their positions if they
had placed their bets two weeks ago before the European Central
Bank and the U.S Federal Reserve moved to ease and before
Beijing announced fiscal stimulus measures.
"We're still early in the easing cycle," he said.
The news reports on weak home sales put the Chinese property
sector into yet another tailspin, and official house price data
due out on Tuesday will be keenly watched.
The Shanghai property sub-index lost 3.8 percent.
Poly Real Estate slumped 6.7 percent, and has now
given up about 50 percent of its rise from Aug 30 lows to Sept
In Hong Kong, China Overseas Land shed 1.8
percent, while China Resources Land slumped 3.4
percent also on reports that it could buy property from its
HKEx AND HK PROPERTY SECTOR DIVERGE ON QE3 HOPES
Exchange operator Hong Kong Exchange (HKEx) rose
in heavy volumes for a third-straight session, jumping 2.5
percent to its highest close since early May. It has now surged
19 percent from a low on Sept 6.
Investors are betting that the third round of quantitative
easing announced by the U.S. Federal Reserve last week could
boost sagging trading volumes in the Chinese territory.
Chinese oil giant CNOOC Ltd was another top
performer on the Hang Seng, rising 3.7 percent as Brent crude
rose for the eighth day to near $117 per barrel.
Hong Kong property developers were mostly weaker after moves
on Friday by its de facto central bank to curb home loans, to
cool the city's property market and discourage it as a
destination for cheap money resulting from the U.S. Federal
Reserve's latest stimulus plan.
Sun Hung Kai Properties rose 0.9 percent, but
Midland Holdings, the territory's largest listed
property brokerage, lost 2.3 percent. Henderson Land
shed 1.4 percent, while Sino Land slid 2.1 percent.
(Additional reporting by Chen Yixin in SHANGHAI and Langi
Chiang in BEIJING; Editing by XXX)