Hong Kong shares close down 0.9 pct in 3rd straight loss

HONG KONG, March 7 Wed Mar 7, 2012 3:15am EST

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HONG KONG, March 7 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares slumped to a third consecutive loss on Wednesday, with weakness in China Life Insurance as investors locked in profit ahead of corporate earnings later this month from Chinese companies that are unlikely to match expectations.

The Hang Seng Index closed down 0.86 percent at 20,627.78. The China Enterprises Index of top mainland listings in Hong Kong ended down 1.28 percent at 10,976.49.

The Shanghai Composite Index finished down 0.65 percent at 2,394.79, its lowest close in two weeks as A-share turnover declined for a second straight session.

HIGHLIGHTS:

* China Life Insurance Co Ltd suffered its worst single-day performance since Nov. 10 after the world's largest insurer by market value warned late on Tuesday that its 2011 net profit would fall by up to 50 percent, blaming lower investment yields and an increase in impairment losses caused by capital market fluctuations. Losses this week have shaved about two-thirds off China Life's 2012 gains to date. It dropped 6.1 percent on Wednesday to close at the lowest since Jan. 17, bringing its loss on the week to 13.3 percent. China Life is up 8.6 percent in the year to date.

* Want Want China Holdings Ltd was a standout outperformer, extending gains after posting a 2011 net profit that bettered expectations on Tuesday, suggesting investors were ready to invest in companies with strong fundamentals. The Chinese snack maker jumped 7 percent in almost three times its 30-day average volume to close at the highest since its listing debut in March 2008. (Reporting by Clement Tan; Editing by Chris Lewis)

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