China shares down on policy uncertainty, crimp Hong Kong gains

Fri Nov 16, 2012 4:53am GMT

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* HSI +0.3 pct, H-shares +0.5 pct, CSI300 -0.9 pct

* Turnover weak, with all indexes set for 2nd straight weekly loss

* China Mobile top HSI boost, most defensives strong too

* Li & Fung slides almost 6 pct after disappointing Wal-Mart sales

By Clement Tan

HONG KONG, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Mainland Chinese shares are set for a fifth loss in seven days on Friday, crimping Hong Kong gains and underperforming Asian peers as investors reduced risk exposure on uncertainty about the policies of the country's new leadership team.

The CSI300 Index of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen listings was down 0.9 percent at 2,174.4 by midday, after flirting with its lowest intra-day level since March 2009 in mid-morning trade. The Shanghai Composite Index also shed 0.9 percent.

The Hang Seng Index rose 0.3 percent, while the China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong gained 0.5 percent. Both indices rebounded from their lowest levels in a month, set on Thursday.

Friday midday volumes in Shanghai sank to the lowest in a week, while Hong Kong turnover at midday was at a November low.

All four indexes are set for a second-straight weekly loss, with the Hang Seng now down 1 percent, the China Enterprises down 2 percent, the CSI300 down 3 percent, and the Shanghai Composite down 2.8 percent.

"It's still unclear what kind of changes the new leadership are going to make, and this is feeding mainland investors' jitters as they look to cut losses going into the year's end after two straight annual losses," said Zhong Hua, a Shanghai-based analyst with Guotai Junan Securities.

China's ruling Communist Party unveiled an older, conservative new leadership line-up on Thursday that appears unlikely to take the drastic action needed to tackle pressing issues like social unrest, environmental degradation and corruption.

The CSI300 and Shanghai Composite indexes are currently down 7.3 and 8.5 percent on the year after combined losses exceeding more than 30 percent in the two years before.

On Friday, Chinese banking and energy majors extended their downward spiral in the onshore market. Bank of China slid 1.1 percent, while China Petroleum and Chemical Corp (Sinopec) shed 2.1 percent.

This comes after China said it will cut gasoline and diesel prices from Friday, for a fourth time this year, in response to declines in international crude oil prices, dealing another blow to loss-making refineries in the world's second-largest oil consumer.

DEFENSIVES STRONG IN HONG KONG

In Hong Kong, China Mobile was the top boost to the Hang Seng Index, rising 1.6 percent. Hong Kong & China Gas , another defensive counter, was also among the top gainers among index components, rising 2 percent.

SJM Holdings, Macau's largest casino operator, rose 0.7 percent after posting a 41 percent rise in third-quarter net profit after markets closed on Thursday.

The Hang Seng Index manager will publish the results of its quarterly review of the Hong Kong benchmark, after markets close on Friday in which it may add or exclude constituents.

Limiting gains on Friday, Esprit Holdings dived 5.3 percent after the company said late on Thursday that its former chairman Michael Ying has not yet requested to join its board. Esprit surged 22 percent on Thursday after Ying doubled his stake in the ailing retailer.

Global supply chain manager, Li & Fung slumped 5.5 percent to its lowest since mid-October after one of its major clients, Wal-Mart Stores Inc posted disappointing quarterly sales on Thursday.

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