* HSI -0.6 pct, H-shares -0.8 pct, CSI300 -1.2 pct
* All four indexes set for weekly loss, financials big drags
* China COSCO dive, VP reportedly under investigation
* Esprit hits 20-mth high on hopes for more mgt stake
By Clement Tan
HONG KONG, Nov 8 China shares underperformed
most Asian markets on Friday morning, taking Hong Kong down to a
two-week low, as growth-sensitive counters were hit ahead of a
key Communist Party policy-setting meeting starting this
Losses came in anemic bourse volumes, with both markets
headed for weekly losses and little moved by China's October
trade data on Friday. Monthly figures for inflation, industrial
output, urban investment and retail sales are due on Saturday.
By midday, the CSI300 of the top Shanghai and
Shenzhen listings sank 1.2 percent to 2,312.6 points, breaking
below its 100-day moving average for the first time since Sept.
9. The Shanghai Composite Index slid 1.1 percent.
The Hang Seng Index shed 0.6 percent to 22,746.5
points after opening at its lowest intra-day level since Oct.
25. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese
listings in Hong Kong sank 0.8 percent.
The manager for both Hong Kong benchmarks is due to release
the results of its quarterly component review after markets
close on Friday.
All four benchmark indexes are set for weekly losses.
China's Third Plenum will see some of the country's top leaders
gather behind closed doors from Nov. 9-12 to set the economic
agenda for the next decade.
"I think you can see that institutional investors are
cautious from their mostly neutral or negative positioning,"
said Kelvin Wong, Hong Kong-China equity analyst at Julius Baer.
While there are opportunities in sectors that give better
earnings clarity, it is too risky to place bets because the
plenum meeting is only likely to produce broad directional
policy guidance, Wong added.
"This new Chinese government is only a year old, details on
changes will take a longer time to emerge," Wong said.
On Friday, shares of China COSCO Holdings
tumbled 5.3 percent in Hong Kong and 3.5
percent in Shanghai after the country's largest bulk shipper
said a vice president was under investigation by the relevant
authorities -- shorthand generally used in China to describe
Chinese financials weakened again after several headlines in
local Chinese media earlier this week stoked expectations that
Beijing will do more to crack down on shadow banking after this
Haitong Securities , China's
second-largest listed brokerage, tumbled 5 percent in Shanghai
and 2 percent in Hong Kong after Chinese media reported that its
returns on some of its bond market products declined
significantly in October.
China exports in October increased by 5.6 percent from a
year earlier, the Customs Administration said on Friday, beating
market expectations for a 3.2 percent rise. Imports rose 7.6
percent against forecasts for an 8.5 percent rise, leaving the
trade surplus at $31.1 billion.
There were gains for some companies in sectors seen firmly
part of Beijing's policy focus such as environmental management.
China Everbright International rose 0.5 percent, while
Beijing Enterprise Water climbed 0.8 percent.
Esprit Holdings spiked 5.2 percent to a 20-month
high, driven largely by retail investors on hopes that
management will further increase their stakes. Hong Kong media
reported on Thursday that its chairman and vice-chairman had
raised their stakes.