Hong Kong shares close out first quarter weaker as Chinese banks dive

HONG KONG, March 28 Thu Mar 28, 2013 4:05am EDT

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HONG KONG, March 28 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares were knocked off their highest in almost two weeks on Thursday, ending the first quarter on a whimper, after the mainland's banking regulator moved to tighten regulation over wealth management products.

The Hang Seng Index closed down 0.7 percent at 22,299.6. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong shed 1.3 percent. They posted their first quarterly loss in three, losing 1.6 and 4.7 percent, respectively.

The CSI300 of the leading Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings closed down 3.3 percent at 2,499.3. The Shanghai Composite Index dived 2.8 percent. Both had their worst single-day showing since March 4.

HIGHLIGHTS:

* China Minsheng Bank dived 7.9 percent, heading losses in the Chinese banking sector after the China Banking Regulatory Commission singled out risks of investment in "informal debt assets", such as trust loans, letters of credit, accounts receivable and bank acceptance bills, among others, in a clutch of instruments that are broadly categorised in China as "wealth management" products.

* Banks are now required to keep investments in such assets at no higher than 35 percent of total outstanding wealth management products, or no more than 4 percent of their total assets - whichever is the lower amount.

* Thursday was the last day of trading for the quarter and the month of March in Hong Kong with markets shut for a four-day Easter weekend from Friday, reopening on Tuesday. Mainland Chinese markets stay open throughout.

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