* HSI -1.0 pct, H-shares -1.2 pct, CSI300 -0.6 pct
* Esprit jumps 20 pct after ex-chairman raised stake
* New China Life Insurance slides after MSCI China
* China railway climb, 2013 govt investment reportedly
higher vs 2012
By Clement Tan
HONG KONG, Nov 15 Hong Kong shares retreated on
Thursday, dragged down by poor third quarter earnings by Chinese
internet giant Tencent Holdings, while markets on the mainland
were weaker as the country unveiled its new top leadership.
The Hang Seng Index went into the midday trading
break down 1 percent at 21,237.1, but off the day's lows,
bouncing off chart support seen at about 21,200. Tencent
Holdings slid 4.9 percent.
The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese
listings in Hong Kong shed 1.2 percent. The Shanghai Composite
Index and the CSI300 Index of the top Shanghai
and Shenzhen listings each slipped 0.6 percent.
"Losses today were tracking weakness on Wall Street last
night, but recent inflows into China equities won't leave
although they might slow down a little from here because of
concerns over the U.S. fiscal cliff," said Alan Lam, Julius
Baer's Greater China equity analyst.
"Hu Jintao not staying on as military chief for any longer
than his term as president suggests power will be concentrated
with Xi and should assure a steady pace of reform," Lam added.
China's ruling Communist Party unveiled its new leadership
line-up on Thursday to steer the world's second-largest economy
for the next five years, with Vice President Xi Jinping taking
over from outgoing President Hu Jintao as party chief.
Chinese railway and construction material counters rose
after the 21st Century Business Herald newspaper reported that
the Ministry of Railways has set a preliminary investment target
of 530 billion yuan for China's railway construction next year,
exceeding this year's 516 billion yuan target.
In Hong Kong, China Railway Group rose 1.7
percent, while Anhui Conch Cement rose 1 percent and
China National Building Material climbed 1.2 percent.
Esprit Holdings outperformed, surging 20 percent
after its former chairman increased his holding in the
Europe-focused fashion retailer, fuelling hopes he would play a
bigger role in the company.
But other growth-sensitive sectors, such as resources, that
led gains on Wednesday were all weaker. In Hong Kong, Aluminum
Corporation of China (Chalco) shed 2 percent, while
Angang Steel slipped 0.6 percent.
TENCENT, NEW CHINA LIFE INSURANCE WEAK
Shares of Tencent Holdings fell to their lowest level since
end-September after it reported that efforts to expand into new
businesses hit margins and the number of fee-paying users for
its Internet services fell.
Tencent has now lost more than 8 percent from a Nov 2 high,
but is still up 63 percent this year. This compares to the 15
percent gain for the Hang Seng Index.
New China Life Insurance slumped 7.4 percent in
heavy volumes to its lowest since Sept. 27.
A trader at a European brokerage said investors were bailing
out on the stock after it failed to be included as a component
stock on the MSCI China index.
Counters that will be excluded from the MSCI China index
after market close on Nov 30 were mostly weaker. China Rongsheng
lost 2 percent, while China Yurun Food
declined 1.4 percent.