* Index ended the quarter down 5.6 pct, 5th quarterly decline
* Esprit erases early rally despite succession plan
* HSBC slides at end to rights trade (Updates to close)
HONG KONG, March 31 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares trimmed early gains and closed up 0.89 percent on Tuesday with investors holding back ahead of clearer signals about the health of the United States and the local economy.
The market ended the quarter down 5.64 percent, marking its fifth consecutive quarterly decline, but ended the month up 5.97 percent, the biggest single-month gain in 11 months.
“China’s stimulus package aided sentiment during the first quarter and it’s about time to see the actual impact in the coming quarter,” said Conita Hung, head of equity research from Delta Asia Financial. “Gains being trimmed in the market suggests that investors remain cautious.”
Hung said investors will be keeping track of indicators from both the United States and the local economy for hints of any recovery following measures by various governments.
The benchmark Hang Seng Index .HSI, which rose as much as 1.8 percent in the morning, trimmed early gains to close up only 119.69 points at 13,576.02.
Global lender HSBC 0005.HK, which fell as low as HK$41.35 as investors unloaded their holdings on the last trading day of its nil-paid rights 2997.HK, trimmed loss to end at HK$42.65, still down 0.12 percent.
Turnover shrank to HK$49.04 billion (US$6.3 billion) from HK$51.5 billion on Monday.
A drop in Esprit 0330.HK also weighed on the market. Shares of the world's No. 6 fashion retailer erased early gains to fall almost 3 percent on selling orders from Europe, brokers said, before ending down 0.63 percent at HK$39.50.
Esprit rose as much as 5.4 percent earlier to HK$41.90 afterrms rose 2.15 percent to 8,070.13.
Chinese banking stocks rose with China Construction Bank 0939.HK rebounding 3.5 percent after initial losses following the lender's reported revelation that strategic shareholder Temasek [TEM.UL], the Singapore government investment firm, intended to add shares in the bank.
Asia's top refiner, Sinopec 0386.HK600028.SS, rose 5.8 percent to HK$4.96 after it said it was considering adding four large commercial storage facilities capable of holding a total of 8 million tonnes of refined oil products, to boost its supply capacity. [ID:nPEK180576]
China Unicom 0762.HKCHU.N, one of the country's three state-run telecom operators, fell 1.9 percent before it reported a 58 percent rise in yearly net profit, boosted by exceptional gains from the sale of its wireless CDMA business. (US$1=HK$7.8) (Reporting by Donny Kwok; editing by Jacqueline Wong)
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