HK shares end down 2.3 pct, off low after European stocks rally

HONG KONG Mon Aug 8, 2011 4:13am EDT

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HONG KONG Aug 8 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares finished lower for a fifth consecutive session on Monday, but trimmed losses after dropping more than 4 percent at one stage, tracking a rally in European shares, which were buoyed by a European Central Bank (ECB) purchase of Italian and Spanish bonds.

The Hang Seng Index finished down 2.17 percent at 20,490.57. The China Enterprises Index ended down 2.81 percent at 11,113.45.

The Shanghai Composite Index recorded its largest single-day loss since November last year on Monday, finishing down 3.79 percent at 2,526.82 as A-share turnover surged to its highest in a fortnight.

HIGHLIGHTS:

* Hong Kong shares were battered in early Monday trade after Standard & Poor's downgrade of the long-term credit rating of the United States heightened risk aversion among investors. The Hang Seng Index fell more than 4 percent at one stage, falling below a key support level at 20,370, its August 2010 low, before rebounding to finish above that support level after the ECB was seen buying Spanish and Italian bonds.

* Turnover totalled HK$99.6 billion, declining almost 20 percent from Friday's 8-1/2 month high as some investors chose to sit out the volatility.

* Cyclicals were once again the hardest hit as risk aversion hit the roof, with the U.S. downgrade worsening global growth concerns. The top three beta plays among Hang Seng components, Citic Pacific Ltd , China Coal Energy Co Ltd and Aluminium Corp of China Ltd (Chalco) were among the benchmark's biggest percentage losers. The Hang Seng Composite Index for Materials finished down 3.2 percent on the day.

DAY AHEAD:

* China is expected to announce July inflation data on Tuesday, which could hover near a three-year high.

* The United States Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meets on Tuesday, after markets close in Hong Kong.

* A slew of first-half earnings are expected on Tuesday, including China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd . (Reporting by Clement Tan; Editing by Chris Lewis)

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