Hong Kong, China shares ease before key data; financials drag
* HSI -0.2 pct, H-shares -0.5 pct, CSI300 -0.7 pct
* A-shares set for 1st weekly outperformance vs H-shares in a month
* Profit-taking saps outperforming Chinese financials
* Strong Nov sales lift Country Garden from China property malaise
By Clement Tan
HONG KONG, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Hong Kong and China shares slid early on Friday as investors cut risky bets ahead of economic data from the United States and China this weekend that would offer clues on any possible tapering of U.S. stimulus and China's reform impetus.
China's leaders will also convene for an annual economic work conference next week where they will set economic growth targets and policy priorities for 2014. Separate planning conferences for urbanisation and agriculture are also reportedly being held.
At midday, the Hang Seng Index was down 0.2 percent at 23,661.5 points, not far from the lowest intra-day levels since Nov. 21. The China Enterprises Index of the top offshore Chinese listings in Hong Kong slid 0.5 percent. They are each down almost 1 percent on the week.
The CSI300 of the leading Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings was down 0.7 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index sank 0.6 percent. They are headed for a fourth-straight weekly gain and set to outperform H-shares for the first time in four weeks.
"There's quite a bit of action in smaller names, so the benchmark indexes are not quite indicative of the market at this point," said Alex Wong, Ample Finance's director of asset management.
Investors have also switched back into the Macau casino and Chinese Internet names this week, two sectors that have underperformed after Beijing unveiled an ambitious reform agenda that spurred gains for underowned growth-sensitive large caps.
Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings was the biggest boost to the Hang Seng Index, rising 1.7 percent to a record high. Its shares have now bounced more than 16 percent from a trough on Nov. 13.
While bigger Macau counters were again stronger on Friday, the smaller Macau Legend went into the midday trading break down 8.2 percent after rising by as much as 8.8 percent earlier in the morning.
Chinese financials, which have enjoyed a run-up since mid-November, were among the biggest index drags. Citic Securities sank 1.2 percent in Hong Kong and 3.4 percent in Shanghai.
Chinese property firms mostly eased after the official China Securities Journal reported that Beijing may remove caps on property prices next year, replacing them with supply-side indicators.
China Vanke fell 0.9 percent in Shenzhen, while Shimao Property also dropped 0.9 percent in Hong Kong. But Country Garden climbed 0.8 percent after reporting a 179 percent jump in November contracted sales from a year earlier.
China's three-month Shanghai Interbank Offered Rate leapt to the highest since the end-June and early July cash crunch on reform speculation, but short-term rates in the interbank market did not follow.
Beijing is due to release November trade data on Sunday, with money supply, loan growth and total social financing data due Dec. 8-15. Monthly inflation data is expected on Monday, while those for urban investment, industrial output and retails sales are due on Tuesday.
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