February 2, 2016 / 8:07 AM / 6 months ago

Hong Kong shares end firmer; eyes on Fed minutes

* Hang Seng up 0.2%, H shares gain 0.4%

* Fed minutes coming, central bankers to meet this week

* More protests due; Alibaba delays listing - sources

HONG KONG, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Hong Kong stocks closed a tick higher on Wednesday, while markets bet on central banks to ease policy and stave off fears of global economic slowdown amid consistent headwinds from the Sino-U.S. trade dispute.

** At the close of trade, the Hang Seng index was up 0.2% at 26,270.04 points. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index ended 0.4% firmer. ** The sub-index for energy shares closed 0.1% down, while the IT sector settled down 0.5%, the financial sector ended 0.2% higher and the property sector closed up 0.6%. ** Asian shares flatlined as worries about global recession and endless trade wars wrestled with hopes for more monetary and fiscal stimulus to keep growth going. ** Traders are betting on the U.S. Federal Reserve to deliver another 25 basis point cut next month, while the central bank will release minutes of its July policy meeting later in the day. ** The People’s Bank of China lowered its new lending reference rate slightly on Tuesday and kicked off interest rate reforms designed to reduce corporate borrowing costs. ** Bank of East Asia Ltd (BEA) warned on Wednesday that weeks of protests in Hong Kong could hit the economies of the island city and mainland China as demonstrators prepared a sit-in at a subway and site of a mid-summer mob attack. ** Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has delayed its up to $15 billion listing in Hong Kong amid growing political unrest in the Asian financial hub, two people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. ** The top gainer on the Hang Seng was China Resources Land Ltd , which gained 4.5%, while the biggest loser was Hong Kong and China Gas Co Ltd, which dropped 5.3%. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.1%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 0.3%. ** About 1.70 billion Hang Seng index shares were traded. The volume traded in the previous trading session was 1.82 billion. ** At close, China’s A-shares were trading at a premium of 29.98% over Hong Kong-listed H-shares.

Reporting by Noah Sin, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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