* HSI down 0.4 pct, CSI300 down 0.5 pct
By Yimou Lee and Chen Yixin
HONG KONG/SHANGHAI, Feb 18 Hong Kong shares fell
in morning trade on Monday as investors reacted to signs of
softening on mainland exchanges, which reopened Monday after the
Chinese Spring Festival holiday week.
The Hang Seng Index went into the midday trading
break down 0.4 percent at 23,361.29 points, while the China
Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong
Kong fell 0.8 percent.
Chinese insurers and banks were among the top drags on the
benchmark Hang Seng Index.
Jackson Wong, Tanrich Securities vice president for equity
sales in Hong Kong, said that Hong Kong investors had expected a
stronger opening on mainland markets.
"Prior to any major news before the power transition in
March, we are going to be in the consolidation mode," Wong said.
Shares in Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC)
, the world's biggest bank, fell 0.7 percent, while
Bank of China was down 1 percent.
Energy stocks were mostly down as the recovery in China has
failed to drive up coal prices. China Coal Energy,
down 7.6 percent this month, fell 2 percent, while China Shenhua
Energy Co Ltd fell 1.6 percent.
Shares in China's offshore specialist CNOOC Ltd
fell 0.5 percent after U.S. oil firm ConocoPhillips
received approval for an oilfield in northern China, in which
CNOOC has a 51 percent stake.
China Gogreen Assets Investment Ltd rose 1.3
percent after media reports it was in talks about developing
solar power stations in Henan Province with an expected
investment of 720 million yuan ($115.52 million).
Shares of Foxconn International Holdings Ltd fell
0.6 percent after media reports said the company planned to hire
up to 40,000 workers in Chongqing after the Chinese New Year
The CSI300 index, which tracks the largest listed
firms in Shanghai and Shenzhen, was down more than 0.5 percent,
but the Shanghai Composite Index inched up 0.4 percent.
Zheng Weigang, analyst at Shanghai Securities in Shanghai,
attributed China's mixed performance to stronger appetite for
small-cap shares among mainland investors.
"After the new year, small-cap shares have a greater
opportunity to rise based on yearly earnings, given they might
get some policy support. But as for large-cap stocks, it's
harder to say; they are still in an adjustment phase."