Hong Kong shares see sluggish start

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Hong Kong - Hong Kong shares fell in sluggish trade on Monday, dragged down by large Chinese banking and property counters ahead of a fresh batch of economic data from the world's second-largest economy later in the week.

Adding to negative sentiment, the People's Bank of China suggested in its quarterly monetary policy report on Saturday that cash market volatility could persist as it reins in an explosion of off-balance sheet lending.

The Hang Seng Index ended down 0.3 percent at 21,579.3 points, while the China Enterprises Index of the top offshore Chinese listings in Hong Kong also slipped 0.3 percent.

Turnover in Hong Kong stayed below its 20-day moving average for a fourth-straight session as investors marked time ahead of Janet Yellen's first Congressional testimonies this week as the new chief of the US Federal Reserve.

This was in contrast to an exuberant mainland Chinese market, which outperformed other Asian markets as investors cheered a host of policy announcements seen as favourable to earnings growth for sectors from autos to insurers and infrastructure.

China will release trade data on February 12, inflation on February 14 and money supply and loan growth data by February 15.

The Chinese central bank's two weekly scheduled open market operations will also come into focus, with maturities due to drain 450 billion yuan this week. - Reuters

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