January 17, 2019 / 8:49 AM / 6 months ago

HK shares fall as warning signs flash on Chinese economy

* .HSI -0.5 pct, .HSCE -0.4 pct; losses across the board

* Chinese 2019 GDP growth to slow to 6.3 pct: Reuters poll

* Beijing says vice-premier to visit U.S.; shares unmoved

HONG KONG, Jan 17 (Reuters) - The Hong Kong shares slid on Thursday as China’s economy looked poised to report its worst growth figures in a decade. ** The Hang Seng index settled 0.5 percent lower at 26,755.63 points. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index fell 0.4 percent. ** The sub-index of the Hang Seng tracking energy shares dipped 0.4 percent, while the IT sector eased 0.1 percent, the financial sector ended 0.4 percent lower and the property sector lost 1.5 percent. ** Analysts polled by Reuters said Chinese annual GDP growth could decelerate to 6.3 percent in 2019, and that the world’s second-largest economy likely slowed to 6.4 percent in the last quarter of 2018, the weakest since the financial crisis, as the Sino-U.S. trade war cooled domestic and export demand. ** Li Keqiang, the Chinese premier, warned of a difficult year ahead for the Chinese economy on Wednesday, and vowed to increase investment in public services and infrastructure, expand consumption, to buffer the headwinds. ** To avert a cash crunch in the market, the People’s Bank of China injected a net $83 billion into the country’s financial system on Wednesday, a daily record, and added 380 billion more yuan ($56.27 billion) to the financial system on Thursday. ** The central bank made the moves after money supply data showed several of China’s key credit gauges continue to languish around record lows, and Germany, a key trade partner with China, reported its weaker-than-expected economic growth on Tuesday. ** China’s commerce ministry’s announcement late in afternoon trading that Liu He, a Chinese vice premier, will visit the U.S. for trade talks on Jan. 30 and 31, was not enough to reverse losses in the Hong Kong market. ** The top gainer on the Hang Seng was Sino Biopharmaceutical Ltd, which advanced 2.9 percent, while the biggest loser was Country Garden Holdings Co Ltd, which fell 3.5 percent. ** China’s main Shanghai Composite index closed down 0.4 percent at 2,559.64 points, while the blue-chip CSI300 index lost 0.6 percent. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index weakened 0.2 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 0.2 percent. ** The three biggest H-shares percentage decliners were Byd Co Ltd, which was down 6.1 percent, China Vanke Co Ltd , which fell 3.7 percent and CITIC Ltd, down by 3.3 percent. ** About 1.92 billion Hang Seng index shares were traded. The volume traded in the previous session was 1.77 billion. ** At close, China’s A-shares were trading at a premium of 17.25 percent over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares. ** The short and one-factor leveraged Hang Seng index, which is designed to replicate the payoff of a short or leveraged portfolio and is linked to the movements of the Hang Seng Index, was higher by 0.55 percent on the day at 5,167.62 points. (Reporting by Noah Sin; Editing by Shreejay Sinha)

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