Property sector woes add to bad week for Hong Kong, China shares

Fri Mar 15, 2013 9:26am GMT

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* HSI down 0.4 pct on the day, slides 2.4 pct on the week

* CSI300 up 0.2 on Friday, but had weekly loss of 2.6 pct

* China property weak after talk on strict curb-enforcement

By Clement Tan

HONG KONG, March 15 (Reuters) - Hong Kong and China shares ended their worst week in three on a tepid note on Friday, dragged down by Chinese property developers after official media reported that new curbs on the housing market will be strictly enforced.

The Hang Seng Index closed down 0.4 percent on the day at 22,533.1, while the China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong shed 0.7 percent. This week, they slipped 2.4 and 4 percent respectively.

In the mainland, the CSI300 of the leading Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings ended up 0.2 percent on Friday while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.4 percent. But for the week, they fell 2.6 and 1.7 percent respectively, testing their lowest levels in two months.

Shanghai's trading volume on Friday was above its average in the last 20 days, for the first time in more than a week. Turnover in Hong Kong was the heaviest since Feb. 4.

"I doubt there will be much downside from here, so if you are a bit light on your positions, this may be a good time to buy into beaten-down counters with a clearer growth or earnings potential," said Larry Jiang, chief investment strategist at Guotai Junan International Securities.

China will announce the rest of its new cabinet lineup as its annual parliamentary meeting ends over the weekend. The session confirmed Xi Jinping as president on Thursday and Li Keqiang as premier on Friday.

Investors will be keenly watching for more details on broad policy directives announced or reported in the last two weeks at a time data points to a more gradual recovery in Chinese economic growth.

On Friday, shares of Chinese airlines climbed after the official Shanghai Securities News quoted the country's top aviation regulator as saying that China should invest in more airports and that jet fuel prices will be subject more to market forces.

China Eastern Airlines rose 3.4 percent in Shanghai and 1.5 percent in Hong Kong. Hainan Airlines surged the maximum 10 percent limit in Shanghai.

PROPERTY-RELATED PLAYS SINK

Chinese property developers sank after the country's housing minister was reported by the official China Securities Journal as saying that curbs imposed on the market to control the market will be strictly enforced and that prices are expected to fall this year.

China Vanke dived 3 percent in Shenzhen to its lowest since Dec. 25. Shares of the mainland's largest developer by sales have plunged 13 percent since March 1, when China's cabinet announced more measures intended to curb speculative home demand amid rising prices.

In Hong Kong, China Resources Land (CR Land) tumbled 5.4 percent - to its lowest close since Nov. 21 - ahead of its 2012 final earnings. After the market closed, the company posted a 30 percent rise in 2012 net profit from a year earlier.

Chinese cement counters plunged in Hong Kong, with a trader citing speculation that the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planning agency, is investigating the industry for suspected price collusion.

Anhui Conch Cement dived 5.6 percent, while China National Building Material Co. plunged 6.9 percent, its biggest single-day loss since November 2011.

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