(Updates to midday)
* HSI slips 0.1 pct, CSI300 down 0.2 pct
* Esprit dives 11 pct, new CEO's plan to revive retailer in
* MGM China up after encouraging Q2 earnings
* Cathay Pacific in focus after H1 earnings underwhelm
By Clement Tan
HONG KONG, Aug 8 Hong Kong shares edged lower in
thin trade on Wednesday, as investors took profits ahead of a
slew of Chinese economic data, with retailer Esprit Holdings
giving up some of its big gains from the previous session.
The Hang Seng Index inched down 0.1 percent to
20,055.1 at midday, near the bottom of the day's range.
Mainland Chinese markets were weaker, with the Shanghai
Composite Index down 0.1 percent at midday, while the
CSI300 Index of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen listings
was down 0.2 percent.
"People have been trying to ride the bounce up this week,
but we are running into some technical resistance now," said
Hong Hao, chief strategist at Bank of Communications
Esprit dived 11.3 percent, trimming its 28 percent
surge on Tuesday, as investors await more details on a plan by
its new chief to revive the struggling Europe-focused retailer.
Standard Chartered Plc was up 0.7 percent at
midday after opening down more than 3 percent. It suffered its
worst ever single day loss in Hong Kong on Wednesday after the
New York state banking regulator launched an explosive attack on
the bank's alleged money laundering transactions tied to Iran.
On Thursday, it emerged that the U.S. Treasury Department
and Federal Reserve were blindsided and angered by that move,
sources familiar with the situation said.
Beijing is expected to release a slew of July economic data
from Thursday, starting with inflation, urban investment,
industrial output and retail sales that is likely to signal a
modest recovery in the world's second-largest economy.
Shares of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC)
, the mainland's largest lender, were the top drag on
the Hang Seng Index, falling 1 percent after testing chart
resistance at around HK$4.60.
Belle International, a China-focused footwear
retailer, shed 3.1 percent after rising almost 8 percent in the
previous two days.
EARNINGS IN FOCUS
MGM China jumped 4.2 percent after posting
better-than-expected second-quarter results after markets closed
on Tuesday. It is now up almost 19 percent for the year to date,
compared with an 8.8 percent gain for the Hang Seng Index.
Before Wednesday, it was trading at 9.8 times forward
12-month earnings, a 12 percent discount to its historical
median, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine.
Cathay Pacific Airways rose 0.5 percent ahead of
its interim earnings at midday which underwhelmed expectations.
It is down 2.6 percent this year.
Five out of 21 analysts downgraded their earnings estimates
for Cathay Pacific by an average of 18.8 percent in the last 30
days, according to StarMine.
Hong Kong's dominant carrier posted a net loss of HK$935
million ($120.6 million) for the six months ended June as the
global airline industry grappled with stubbornly high jet fuel
prices, falling passenger yields and lower freight volume.
(Editing by Richard Pullin)