Hong Kong shares hit 2-mth low, China slides after plenum disappointment

Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:44pm EST

* HSI -1.3 pct, H-shares -2 pct, CSI300 -1.1 pct

* Plenum disappoints on lack of details, SOEs seen staying dominant

* China growth plays hit, investors trim long positions

* Tencent extends slide ahead of quarterly earnings

By Clement Tan

HONG KONG, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares hit a two-month low early on Wednesday, underperforming mainland markets as disappointed investors cut risk exposure after a perceived lack of details on highly-awaited reforms from a key Communist Party policy meeting.

China's banks were among the leading drags on benchmark indexes. Losses in Hong Kong were accompanied by a spike in turnover in the first hour of trade as investors trimmed long positions in Chinese state-owned enterprises.

"People should just take off bets on growth and be careful not to read too much into the change of wording from 'basic' to 'decisive' on the role of markets," said Hong Hao, chief strategist at Bank of Communications International Securities.

Without details guiding the scale and nature of much-touted reforms, Hao said investors should brace themselves for a global sell-off in the short term with data signals seeming to point to a slowing of growth in the mainland and a possible earlier-than-expected tapering of U.S. monetary stimulus.

By 0339 GMT, the Hang Seng Index was down 1.3 percent at 22,591.1 points after earlier touching its lowest intra-day level since Sept. 5. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong sank 2 percent.

At midday, the CSI300 of the leading Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings was down 1.1 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index slid 0.8 percent. Both onshore indexes pared gains made in the first two days of the week.

H-shares have been trading at a slight premium over A-shares for more than two weeks, but on Wednesday, the outperformance of onshore markets over offshore ones further narrowed that premium .

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) , the world's largest bank by market capitalisation, was among the biggest index losers in Hong Kong, down nearly 3 percent. Its Shanghai listing shed 0.5 percent.

Chinese banks' non-performing loan ratio ticked up to 0.97 percent at the end of September from 0.96 percent from the end of June, the China Banking Regulatory Commission said on Wednesday. [ID: nB9N0I602F]

While more details on other reforms may be released in the coming days, the initial communique made clear that the Communist Party had no plans to radically reduce the role of the state in the economy.

"Some people were just positioned too long going into this plenum meeting and were always bound to be disappointed," said a trader at an agency broker.

China Petroleum and Chemical (Sinopec) Corp sank 1.6 percent in Hong Kong and 1.7 percent in Shanghai. China Resources Power slid 3.2 percent to its lowest in more than a month in Hong Kong.

Ping An Insurance , China's second-largest insurer, tumbled more than 2 percent each in Hong Kong and Shanghai on uncertainty whether its largest shareholder will cut its stake.

Thailand's Charoen Pokphand Group, Ping An's single-largest investor, pledged late on Tuesday the majority of the shares it owned to the London branch of UBS as part of a financing scheme.

Tencent Holdings dived 2.6 percent ahead of its quarterly earnings later in the day and is now down about 11 percent from an Oct. 21 peak.

Still up nearly 60 percent on the year, Tencent is trading at a 9 percent premium to its forward 12-month earnings multiple, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. Six out of 26 analysts have upgraded their full year earnings-per-share estimates for Tencent by 7 percent in the last 30 days.