March 29, 2017 / 8:29 AM / 10 months ago

Hong Kong shares end slightly higher, aided by Tencent, banking shares

SHANGHAI, March 29 (Reuters) - Hong Kong stocks pared early gains to end slightly higher on Wednesday, as weakness in property shares offset buying in shipping firms and index heavyweight Tencent.

The Hang Seng index rose 0.2 percent to 24,392.05 points, while the China Enterprises Index gained 0.1 percent to 10,437.51.

The market was firm in the morning but sentiment was hurt by a late afternoon drop in mainland stocks.

Index heavyweight Tencent rose 0.6 percent, having touched record intraday highs, after the Chinese Internet giant bought a 5 percent stake in U.S. electric car maker Tesla Inc .

Banking stocks rose after major mainland lenders Bank of Communications (BoCom) and Agricultural Bank of China (AgBank) reported modest annual profit growth.

Shares of Fosun International swung wildly before ending up 2 percent, after the firm said its co-founder and chief executive Liang Xinjun would step down in a broader reshuffle, while also reporting a strong rise in profit.

The real estate sector continued to struggle, dipping 0.2 percent.

More large cities on China’s wealthy east coast - Fuzhou, Xiamen, and Hangzhou - stepped up property curbs this week, following Beijing’s drastic moves that analysts say could freeze the market.

Moody’s Investors Service warned on Wednesday that the financial risks facing China from a potential property downturn have grown as record lending has made banks more risk-prone while the government is less able to combat those risks. (Reporting by Samuel Shen and John Ruwitch; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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