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Shanghai shares set for 1st loss in 9 days, drag Hong Kong lower

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Thu, Feb 07, 2013 05:15 hrs

* HSI -0.4 pct, H-shares -1.4 pct, CSI300 -1.5 pct

* PBOC statement inflames tightening fears, hits banks, property

* Chalco sinks after HSI exclusion, Lenovo up after inclusion

* AIA up, investors rotate into earnings safety

By Clement Tan

Feb 7 (Reuters) - Shanghai shares were poised to snap an eight-day winning streak on Thursday, deepening Hong Kong losses, as investors booked profits on Chinese financials after the central bank stressed on tackling inflation and containing speculative housing demand.

With the official China Securities Journal reporting first-tier cities may slow down the issuance of pre-sale permits in the first half of the year, property shares fell.

The Hang Seng Index was down 0.4 percent at 23,155 points at the midday break, keeping above Tuesday's intra-day low at about 23,104.3. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong shed 1.4 percent.

In the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index was down 1.3 percent, set for its first loss in nine days. The CSI300 of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings was down 1.5 percent from Wednesday's 17-month closing high.

China needs to pay special attention to consumer prices, the central bank said on Wednesday in its fourth-quarter monetary policy report, a turnaround from its previous focus of supporting economic growth.

"There's some rotation trade going on now, especially among those who got in early in the rally," said Hong Hao, the Hong Kong-based chief strategist at Bank of Communication International Securities.

"But I think it's too early to start worrying about inflation in the first quarter. If anything, the central bank's statement shows demand is returning, although some form of property cooling policy can be expected if prices keep rising," Hong added.

Chinese banks were among the top drags on benchmark indexes in both on- and offshore markets. China Minsheng Bank dived 4.3 percent in Hong Kong and 7.3 percent in Shanghai.

Before Thursday, Minsheng shares in both markets had surged more than 100 percent from lows in early September as signs of a recovering Chinese economy and low valuations spurred interest in the bank's shares.

China Vanke, the country's largest property developer by sales, slid 1.6 percent. The Chinese central bank's commitment to contain speculative home demand followed the State Council's late Tuesday statement affirming the gradual expansion of property taxes to more cities.

In Hong Kong, China Resources Land lost 3.4 percent to its lowest since late December, while Shimao Properties tumbled 5.4 percent in what could be its worst daily loss in almost eight months.

Shares of Aluminum Corporation of China (Chalco) fell 3.3 percent in Hong Kong after the index manager said late on Wednesday that Lenovo Group will take its place as a Hang Seng Index component from March 4. Lenovo's shares jumped 3.7 percent.

The announcement was part of a quarterly review that also saw Haitong Securities replace ZTE Corp as a component on the China Enterprises Index. ZTE's shares in Hong Kong slid 1.8 percent, while Haitong shed 2.1 percent after cornerstone IPO investors PAG sold a $150 million stake.

ROTATION IN PROGRESS

In Hong Kong, investors rotated into counters that have lagged the rally from lows late last year as the corporate earnings reporting season picks up after next week's Lunar New Year holiday.

AIA Group climbed 1.1 percent to its highest in about a month. Four of 17 analysts raised their full year 2012 earnings-per-share estimate by an average of about 25.7 percent in the last 30 days, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine.

Shares of Chinese food and beverage giant Tingyi Holdings rose 2 percent in Hong Kong as sector peers Ajisen Holdings and China Foods tumbled 8.7 and 14 percent respectively after warning about declining profits.




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