* HSI -0.3 pct, H-shares -0.8 pct, CSI300 -0.6 pct
* HK indexes headed for 1st monthly gain in three
* Sinopec down after company denies chairman's comments on
* Sun Art hit 1-1/2-year low ahead of 2013 earnings
By Clement Tan
HONG KONG, Feb 28 Hong Kong shares fell on
Friday afternoon, with mainland markets also weaker, as
investors cut their exposure in cyclical outperformers ahead of
a manufacturing survey and a key China parliamentary meeting
Key benchmark indexes are still down on the year, with
markets nervously awaiting China's official manufacturing
purchasing managers' index (PMI) for February due on Saturday,
after January showed a dip to an eight-month low.
The yuan's slide this week has also inflamed anxiety around
"Hong Kong has held up pretty well heading into the annual
parliamentary meetings next week in Beijing," said Jackson Wong,
Tanrich Securities' vice-president for equity sales. "
"As usual, expectations are running high for some kind of
supportive policy, this time for state-owned enterprise reform,
but this is a game we have played before. Not much details
usually get released," he added.
At midday, the CSI300 of the largest Shanghai and
Shenzhen A-share listings was down 0.6 percent, while the
Shanghai Composite Index sank 1 percent. They are down
2.7 and 0.3 percent in February, deepening losses on the year to
8.1 and 4.2 percent, respectively.
The Hang Seng Index was down 0.3 percent at 22,760.8
points, while the China Enterprises Index of the leading
offshore Chinese listings in Hong Kong shed 0.8 percent. They
are headed for their first monthly gain in three, up 3.3 and 0.6
percent, respectively. Still, both are down 2.3 and 8.7 percent
on the year.
China Petroleum and Chemical Corp (Sinopec)
sank about 2 percent from multi-month highs
in Hong Kong and Shanghai. The 21st Century Business Herald
newspaper reported on Friday that a company spokesperson said
comments attributed to Sinopec's chairman in the mainland press
earlier this week were not true.
Wednesday's edition of the China Business News reported
chairman Fu Chengyu as saying more specific reform plans will be
announced in March during the National People's Congress.
Investors had cheered plans announced last week to sell up to 30
percent of its retail oil business to private investors, seen as
the first sign of reform at a state-owned enterprise.
The Chinese banking and consumer sectors were the other
major drags in both markets. China Minsheng Bank
sank 1.5 percent in Hong Kong and 2 percent
China-focused hypermart operator Sun Art Retail Group
fell 3.7 percent to its lowest since July 2012 ahead
of its full year results later in the day. The stock is down
21.2 percent in 2014 and is trading at 21 times forward 12-month
earnings, a 25 percent discount to its historical median,
according to StarMine.
Other key earnings watched on Friday include Sun Hung Kai
Properties and Li Ka Shing-linked Hutchison Whampoa
and Cheung Kong Holdings. Their shares
slipped 0.5, 0.1 and inched up 0.3 percent, respectively.