Hong Kong shares slip, dragged down by local property

Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:46pm EST

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* Local properties fall despite robust holiday sales figures

* Chinese real estate gains on strong sales in January

HONG KONG, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares edged lower on Friday, weighed down by large-cap property and financial stocks, with many investors preferring to wait for direction from mainland China markets, which reopen after the Lunar New Year holiday next week.

Hong Kong property counters fell as robust sales during the holiday sparked fears of fresh curbs.

The Hang Seng Index fell 0.1 percent, while the China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong rose 0.2 percent. Turnover in Hong Kong remained weak, with many traders still away for the holiday.

For the holiday-shortened, two-day trading week, the Hang Seng Index gained 0.8 percent, while the China Enterprises Index climbed 1.6 percent. Mainland Chinese markets were shut for the week and will resume trading on Feb. 18.

"The holiday mode is still there and we are waiting for the reopening of the A-share market," said Linus Yip, strategist at First Shanghai Securities in Hong Kong.

The Hang Seng Index fell 2.1 percent last week, its worst weekly loss since November, but Yip reckoned the market could steady after that fall.

"The short-term correction may be over and trading will turn to some mid- and small-cap stocks," Yip said.

Hong Kong real estate developers reported strong sales figures during the Lunar New Year holiday, triggering fears that the government might announce further housing curbs.

Local property developer Wharf Holdings fell 1.2 percent, while Sun Hung Kai Properties dropped 0.7 percent. Cheung Kong Holdings fell 1.2 percent.

The Chinese real estate sector gained for the second consecutive day after major mainland developers posted strong home sales in January. China Overseas Land rose 1.3 percent, while China Resources Land climbed 1.1 percent.

Shares in Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd rose 6 percent after its January car sales jumped 67 percent year-on-year.

China Metal International Holdings Inc rose 4.5 percent after its unaudited revenue for January rose to $25.8 million from $20.8 million a year ago.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd, the world's largest exchange company by market value, rose 1 percent after announcing plans to offer after-hours futures trading from April.

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