Hong Kong shares slip from peak, but score 5th monthly rise

HONG KONG Thu Jan 31, 2013 3:12am EST

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HONG KONG Jan 31 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares slipped from a 21-month high on Thursday, trimming January's gains, as investors turned cautious following a batch of profit warnings and knocked the Hang Seng Index off its most overbought levels in almost a month.

The Hang Seng Index closed down 0.4 percent on the day, but up 4.7 percent on the month at 23,729.5. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong shed 0.3 percent on Thursday, but rose 6.1 percent in January.

The CSI300 of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings slipped 0.1 percent on the day, but climbed 6.5 percent on the month. The Shanghai Composite Index ended up 0.1 percent on Thursday and 5.1 percent in January.

HIGHLIGHTS:

* January saw the Hang Seng Index rise for a fifth-straight month, which equalled a monthly winning streak between March and July in 2009 and is the longest since an eight-month string between March and October 2007.

* The Chinese steel and shipping sectors dominated the more than 10 profit warnings posted by Hong Kong-listed companies overnight, sending those shares into a tailspin. Aggravating jitters about steel, the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) said on Thursday that 2012 profit reported by its members, which include more than 70 large steel mills, slumped 98 percent to 1.6 billion yuan ($257.2 million).

* Hengdeli, China's top luxury watch distributor, reversed midday losses to end up 0.7 percent on Thursday after a company statement reiterating no material changes in its business operations. On Wednesday, the stock plunged 13 percent following a report in Hong Kong-based Next magazine raising questions about its operations.

DAY AHEAD:

* China's January official purchasing managers index (PMI) at 0100 GMT on Friday is likely to show manufacturing activity in the world's second-largest economy expanded at its fastest pace in nine months. The median forecast of 14 economists polled by Reuters showed China's official PMI is at 50.9 for January, compared to December's 50.6.

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