Hong Kong stocks close lower

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Hong Kong stocks closed 0.10 percent lower on Wednesday, as declines in China-related stocks were offset by rises in property developers.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index shed 24.52 points to 23,356.99 on turnover of HK$73.47 billion ($9.48 billion).

Property stocks fell earlier in the session with traders worried about the possibility of Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announcing measures to cool the housing market in a policy address after a sharp rise in prices.

Leung did announce steps, including an increase in land supply to provide around 128,700 new homes “in the short-to medium-term”, but analysts said the measures were in line with investor expectations and property shares rose after his speech.

Hong Kong's top two developers by market capitalisation gained, with Sun Hung Kai Properties adding 1.4 percent to HK$125.00 and Chung Kong rising 1.9 percent to HK$130.10.

China's benchmark index in Shanghai ended 0.70 percent lower, pulling down Chinese firms listed in Hong Kong, most of which have a dual listing in Shanghai.

China Life fell 0.9 percent to HK$26.70 and Ping An slid 0.7 percent to HK$68.85.

The Shanghai Composite Index fell 16.18 points to 2,309.50 on turnover of 133.1 billion yuan ($21.4 billion), led by falls in financial shares and environmental stocks due to profit taking, dealers said.

It had gained 3.69 percent the previous two sessions after the head of China's securities regulator said the quota that foreign institutions are allowed to invest in domestic equity markets could be substantially hiked.

“The rally in the past two sessions was a bit overdone, so now investors are more divided on where the market will go,” Haitong Securities analyst Zhang Qi told AFP.

China Life Insurance dropped 2.98 percent to 21.15 yuan, Bank of Beijing fell 2.78 percent to 9.10 yuan and China Merchants Securities declined 2.31 percent to 10.14 yuan.

Environmental protection-related stocks fell on profit taking after rising the last two days on hopes a wave of smog in Chinese cities would prompt the government to do more to clean up pollution.

Pollution control equipment maker Fujian Longking fell 1.70 percent to 25.47 yuan, while wastewater treatment company Beijing Capital shed 1.51 percent to 4.57 yuan. - Sapa-AFP


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