* Hang Seng index ends down 0.9 pct
* Weakest close for HSI since May 8, 2017
* China Enterprises index HSCE falls 0.14 percent
* Auto shares jump on tax cut hopes
Oct 30 (Reuters) - Hong Kong’s main Hang Seng index closed at its lowest in nearly 18 months on Tuesday after a choppy day for regional markets, as tepid investor sentiment outweighed promises of support for mainland markets by China’s securities regulator.
** At the close, the Hang Seng index was down 0.9 percent at 24,585.53 points, its lowest close since May 8, 2017. The China Enterprises Index lost 0.1 percent to 9,998.95 points. ** The sub-index of the Hang Seng tracking energy shares ended 0.5 percent higher, while the IT sector ended 2.78 percent weaker, the financial sector closed 0.83 percent lower and property sector ended down 1.23 percent. ** The top gainer on the Hang Seng was Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd, which ended 2.35 percent firmer, while the biggest loser was BOC Hong Kong Holdings Ltd, which closed down 7.11 percent. ** Geely was among auto manufacturers that jumped after a report that China’s top economic planner is proposing a 50 percent cut to car purchase taxes. Great Wall Motor Co Ltd added 7.33 percent and BAIC Motor Corp Ltd ended 1.98 percent higher. ** China’s blue-chip CSI300 index ended 1.1 percent higher at 3,110.26 points after falling 3 percent on Monday, while the Shanghai Composite Index closed up 1 percent at 2,568.05 points after Monday’s 2.2 percent drop. ** Both indexes reversed early losses that had seen the Shanghai Composite down as much as 0.8 percent, and the CSI300 down as much as 0.85 percent. However, fragile sentiment also trimmed gains: The Shanghai Composite and CSI300 rose up to 1.76 percent and 2.27 percent, respectively. ** China’s securities regulator said it would enhance market liquidity, and encourage share buybacks and mergers and acquisitions by listed firms, the latest in a string of official statements aimed at boosting markets. ** However, adding to the woes over global trade, the United States is preparing to announce tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports by early December if talks next month between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping fail to ease the trade war, Bloomberg reported on Monday. ** In an interview, Trump said he thinks there will be “a great deal” with China on trade, but warned he has billions of dollars worth of new tariffs ready to go if a deal isn’t possible. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.22 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed 1.45 percent firmer. ** The yuan was quoted at 6.9625 per U.S. dollar, as of 0821 GMT, 0.01 percent weaker than previous close of 6.962. ** The top gainers among H-shares were Great Wall Motor Co Ltd , which ended up 7.33 percent, followed by China Galaxy Securities Co Ltd, which closed 5.14 percent firmer and Guangzhou Automobile Group Co Ltd, which ended 4.68 percent higher. ** The three biggest H-shares percentage decliners were China Telecom Corp Ltd, which ended down 6.77 percent, Air China Ltd, which closed down 4.1 percent and Tencent Holdings Ltd, which ended 3.2 percent weaker. ** About 2.17 billion Hang Seng index shares were traded, roughly 122.2 percent of the market’s 30-day moving average of 1.77 billion shares a day. The volume traded in the previous trading session was 2.06 billion shares. ** At close, China’s A-shares were trading at a premium of 24.69 percent over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares.
Reporting by Andrew Galbraith, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips