Hong Kong stocks close down

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Hong Kong - Hong Kong shares closed down 0.80 percent on Monday, falling in line with other regional markets after a weak lead from Wall Street.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index lost 179.68 points to end at 22,388.56 on turnover of HK$57.17 billion ($7.37 billion).

Property shares were hardest hit on worries about possible tightening of credit to the sector.

China Overseas Land and Investment dropped 3.6 percent to HK$20.25, Hang Lung Properties slid 2.8 percent to HK$21.10 while Belle International Holdings rose 5.9 percent to HK$9.32 after the footwear maker reported stronger profit margins in full-year 2013

results than analysts expected.

Chinese shares also closed down on Monday on concerns over possible credit-tightening towards the property sector, dealers said.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropped 1.75 percent, or 37.00 points, to 2,076.69 on turnover of 107.2 billion yuan ($17.6


The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China's second exchange, edged down 0.07 percent, or 0.82 points, to 1,134.19 on turnover of 147.3 billion yuan.

State media claimed last week that domestic banks have recently tightened lending to the real estate sector, though the four biggest state-owned banks on Monday denied they had made any such moves.

Official data released Monday also showed fewer cities, 62 out of 70 tracked, recorded month-on-month increases in new home prices in January, down from 65 in December.

Property worries sent the Shanghai index down as much as 2.60

percent to an intra-day low of 2,058.79 points on Monday, but later narrowed the losses. Analysts said fears were overblown.

“The (property) market doesn't have any structural risks and the government wouldn't clamp down too tightly on an area so important for China's economy,” United Securities analyst Pei Xiaoyan told Dow Jones Newswires.

Poly Real Estate tumbled 8.51 percent to 6.77 yuan while Gemdale slumped 7.66 percent to 5.91 yuan.

Cement producers, which are linked to the property sector, were also lower.

Anhui Conch Cement lost 5.03 percent to 14.91 yuan and Gansu Qilianshan Cement dropped 4.78 percent to 6.38 yuan. - Sapa-AFP

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