* HSI -0.3 pct, H-shares -0.9 pct, CSI300 flat
* Commodities slide as Shanghai copper prices fall sharply
* China property buoyed by hopes of policy flexibility
* Lenovo slides after IBM server deal reportedly called off
By Clement Tan and Yimou Lee
HONG KONG, May 2 (Reuters) - Hong Kong and China shares started May on a weaker footing on Thursday as soft China manufacturing data put growth-sensitive counters on the defensive as mainland markets returned from a three-day public holiday.
The final China HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), released on Thursday, dropped to 50.4 in April from March’s 51.6 and was largely in line with a flash reading last week of 50.5.
China’s official PMI on Wednesday fell to 50.6 in April from an 11-month high of 50.9 in March.
By midday on Thursday, the Hang Seng Index was down 0.3 percent at 22,669.8 points, pulling away from Tuesday’s seven-week closing high. The China Enterprises Index of the leading Chinese listings fell 0.9 percent.
The CSI300 of the leading Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings was flat, while the Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.2 percent. They are down 3 and 4.2 percent on the year, respectively.
Markets in Hong Kong were also shut on Wednesday for the Labour Day public holiday.
“A-share volumes are still very weak. For retail investors, it’s hard to justify putting their money in stocks right now with data looking weak and Beijing not looking like it will loosen policy too much,” said Zhang Qi, a Shanghai-based analyst with Haitong Securities.
On Thursday, Jiangxi Copper dived 2.8 percent in Shanghai and 1.1 percent in Hong Kong after Shanghai copper prices fell nearly 5 percent in early trade as Chinese markets resumed trading for the first time this week.
Lenovo Group tumbled 3.4 percent, heading for its worst day in three weeks, after Fortune magazine reported that the Chinese personal computer maker and IBM have called off negotiations over a multibillion-dollar deal for Big Blue’s low-end server business.
Premium alcohol producers were also hit by a fresh warning on Wednesday that some government officials were avoiding new President Xi Jinping’s graft-busting instructions to be frugal by taking banquets and other lavish displays underground, including hiding liquor in water bottles.
Kweichow Moutai fell 1.4 percent in Shanghai, while Wuliangye fell 2.1 percent in Shenzhen.
Chinese property developers were broadly higher after weak China manufacturing data further raised hopes that Beijing will soften its enforcement of stiff curbs on home prices. Poly Real Estate climbed 1.6 percent in Shanghai.
In Hong Kong, China Overseas Land rose 1.1 percent, while China Resources Land gained 0.6 percent to near a three-month high.
Brokerages rose in the mainland after the official China Securities Journal reported on Saturday that the mainland securities regulator plans to mandate that equity funds invest a minimum proportion of 80 percent in stocks, up from the current 60 percent, citing unidentified regulatory officials.
Citic Securities rose 0.9 percent in Shanghai, while smaller rival Hongyuan Securities climbed 3.3 percent in Shenzhen.