Hong Kong shares close down 0.1 pct in 3rd straight loss

HONG KONG Thu Jan 17, 2013 8:04am GMT

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HONG KONG Jan 17 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares slipped to a third-straight loss on Thursday as investors took profits on growth-sensitive counters ahead of a slew of Chinese economic data due on Friday.

The Hang Seng Index closed down 0.1 percent at 23,339.8 points, sinking further from Monday's 19-1/2-month closing high. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong ended down 0.4 percent.

The CSI300 of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen listings closed down 0.9 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index shed 1.1 percent. Losses over the last two days have about halved gains made earlier this week.

HIGHLIGHTS:

* Evergrande tumbled 7.1 percent to HK$4.32, slightly below the HK$4.35 level at which the Chinese developer priced one billion new shares on Thursday, which was a 6.5 percent discount to its Wednesday's close.

* Hong Kong property stocks rose after no harsh property curbs were included in the maiden policy speech by the territory's new chief executive on Wednesday, who instead announced an increase in land supply.

* The Hang Seng Index finished negative on the day after earlier testing chart resistance at 19-1/2 month highs at about 23,500. This level has stymied index gains for more than two weeks. Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) tracking both onshore and offshore China listings were among the most shorted, suggesting some investors are betting on more index losses after a strong start to the year.

DAY AHEAD:

* Data due on Friday is expected to show that China's annual economic growth quickened to 7.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 from 7.4 percent in the third quarter. December data for housing prices, urban investment, industrial output and retail sales are also expected.

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