April 12, 2018 / 8:25 AM / a year ago

Hong Kong stocks end lower, investors cautious over Syria crisis

* Hang Seng index ends down 0.2 pct

* China Enterprises index HSCE falls 0.3 percent

* HSI financial sector sub-index is flat; property sector down 0.1 percent

SHANGHAI, April 12 (Reuters) - Hong Kong stocks shed early gains to end lower on Thursday, as caution prevailed amid rising tensions in the Middle East following the threat of imminent U.S. military action in Syria. ** The Hang Seng index closed down 0.2 percent at 30,831.28 points, while the China Enterprises Index ended 0.3 percent lower at 12,288.86. ** U.S. president Donald Trump declared that missiles “will be coming” in Syria, taunting Russia for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after a suspected chemical attack on rebels. ** His comments raised the prospect of direct conflict over Syria for the first time between the two world powers backing opposing sides in the seven-year-old civil war, which has also escalated a rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran. ** Adding to the pressure was the lingering concern over the trade spat between China and the United States. ** China’s commerce ministry said on Thursday trade negotiations with the United States would be impossible as Washington’s attempts at dialogue were not sincere, and vowed to retaliate should U.S. President Donald Trump escalate current tensions. ** The top gainer on Hang Seng was CNOOC Ltd, which ended 3.66 percent higher, while the biggest loser was Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd, which closed down 2.88 percent. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index slipped 0.32 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 0.12 percent. ** The yuan was quoted at 6.2804 per U.S. dollar at 0809 GMT, 0.23 percent weaker than the previous close of 6.2662. ** The top gainers among H-shares were CNOOC Ltd, which ended 3.66 percent higher, followed by PetroChina Co Ltd , which closed up 2.71 percent and Guangzhou Automobile Group Co Ltd that climbed 2.03 percent. ** The three biggest H-shares percentage decliners were Air China Ltd, which ended 4.34 percent down, New China Life Insurance Co Ltd, which closed 2.2 percent lower and Tencent Holdings Ltd that closed down by 2 percent. ** At close, China’s A-shares were trading at a premium of 23.66 percent over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares. (Reporting by the Shanghai Newsroom, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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