China shares slip from 1-mth high, Hong Kong weak as quake impact weighed

Mon Apr 22, 2013 5:12am EDT

Related Topics

* HSI +0.1 pct, H-shares flat, CSI300 -0.1 pct

* Chinese insurers slide, reconstruction plays rise after quake

* Great Wall Motor at record close, new products seen buoying sales

* China Unicom spikes after record March 3G subscriber numbers

By Clement Tan

HONG KONG, April 22 (Reuters) - China shares fell from a one-month high on Monday and Hong Kong markets were sluggish, with Chinese insurers sliding on fears that payouts after Saturday's earthquake in southwestern Sichuan province could hit profits.

But building-related sectors such as cement producers climbed on hopes that reconstruction in the aftermath of China's worst earthquake in three years will boost demand.

The toll of the dead and missing climbed to 208 on Sunday, with almost 1,000 serious injuries.

The Shanghai Composite Index and the CSI300 of the leading Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings each slipped 0.1 percent on Monday. Both had closed on Friday at their highest since March 27.

The Hang Seng Index inched up 0.1 percent to end at 22,044.4, its highest closing level since April 12. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong finished little changed, with the financial sub-index down 0.4 percent.

At $6.9 billion, Hong Kong turnover was almost 12 percent below its average in the past 20 days. Shanghai volume slipped from Friday's high, but was 9 percent above average.

"It's difficult to quantify exactly the impact of the earthquake on companies right now, especially insurers with a property and casualty focus," said Jackson Wong, Tanrich Securities' vice-president for equity sales.

In a note dated April 21, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch China economist Ting Lu said almost no significant manufacturers were situated in the earthquake zone, expecting the smaller quake magnitude compared to the devastating 2008 quake to mean government reconstruction spending would be modest.

Still, PICC Property and Casualty fell 2.3 percent in Hong Kong. It is down 12.4 percent in 2013, compared to a 2.7 percent loss for the Hang Seng Index and a 7.4 percent slide on the China Enterprises Index.

China Life Insurance declined 1.9 percent in Hong Kong and 2.6 percent in Shanghai, while Ping An shed 0.8 percent in Hong Kong and 2.2 percent in Shanghai.

But China Taiping Insurance outperformed, jumping 3.5 percent in Hong Kong after the company announced its restructuring plans have been approved by mainland regulators and will involve a capital injection by its parent company.

Shares of Chinese steel and cement producers climbed. Angang Steel rose 0.9 percent in Shenzhen and 1.2 percent in Hong Kong. West China Cement jumped 5.8 percent in Hong Kong in heavy volume.

Anhui Conch Cement rose 0.5 percent in Hong Kong ahead of its quarterly earnings. It is now up 2.7 percent this year. After markets closed, China's largest cement producer reported first quarter net profit declined 22 percent.

CHINA UNICOM, GREAT WALL MOTOR SURGE

Great Wall Motor soared 15 percent in its best day in more than four years in Hong Kong, while jumping 7.7 percent in Shanghai. Both its A- and H-share listings hit record closing highs on Monday.

Its chief executive was reported to have said new products unveiled over the weekend ahead of the Shanghai auto show could help raise 2013 sales by 30 percent, higher than the company's earlier 12.6 percent guidance.

China Mobile, another company due to post quarterly earnings later on Monday, rose 0.6 percent.

Its smaller rival, China Unicom spiked 4.5 percent to its highest since end-March as investors cheered its record high 3G subscriber net gain in March. Unicom is still down almost 14 percent on the year, compared to China Mobile's 8.5 percent slide.

Premium alcohol producer Kweichow Moutai fell 3.1 percent in Shanghai after the official Xinhua news agency reported that Communist Party cadres have been ordered to be less wasteful, citing a meeting of the party's central committee chaired by party secretary and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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