HK's main share index posts worst loss in 2 weeks, China PMI drags

HONG KONG Thu Aug 21, 2014 4:10am EDT

HONG KONG Aug 21 (Reuters) - Hong Kong's benchmark share index posted its biggest daily loss in two weeks on Thursday, after a preliminary private survey showed growth in China's vast factory sector slowed to a three-month low in August, triggering broad profit-taking on recent gains.

The HSBC/Markit Flash China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 50.3 from July's 18-month high of 51.7, reinforcing concerns about increasing softness in the economy. The reading also missed a Reuters forecast of 51.5.

The Hang Seng Index closed down 0.7 percent at 24,994.10 points in its worst day since Aug. 7. The China Enterprises Index of the leading offshore Chinese listings in Hong Kong slid 1 percent to a two-week low.

Earnings remained the focus for many stocks.

China Resources Enterprise closed provisionally down 2.9 percent after posting an 8.7 percent drop in first-half net profit on Thursday. The retail-focused conglomerate also said it expected losses from its joint venture with Britain's Tesco Plc to continue to impact the company.

Its sister company China Resources Power Holdings was the top percentage gainer on the Hang Seng, provisionally up 2.8 percent to its highest since May 2013. JP Morgan on Wednesday lifted the shares' target price to HK$28.5 from HK$26.6 on good interim results. (Reporting by Grace Li; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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