Hong Kong stocks end lower

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Hong Kong stocks closed 0.13 percent lower on Wednesday, as profit-taking offset expectations of central bank action to boost growth and banking giant HSBC dragged down the market.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index gave up 25.78 points to close at 19,709.75 on turnover of HK$45.78 billion ($5.9 billion).

Investors are looking to a European Central Bank policy meeting on Thursday amid expectations the bank will cut its record-low interest rate of 1.0 percent to boost the ailing eurozone after more negative data this week.

They are also waiting for a key US jobs report on Friday, hoping that more poor data from the world's biggest economy will spur the US Federal Reserve into a new round of quantitative easing.

On Wednesday, investors took profits and snapped a 3.7-percent rally over the past two sessions.

But heavyweight HSBC was a major drag on the market, falling 1.3 percent to HK$68.60 as fears mounted the interest rate-rigging scandal that has led to the resignation of senior managers at Barclays could engulf other banks.

The Hang Seng would have finished in positive territory if it had not been for the fall in the lender's stock.

Hong Kong property stocks advanced after underperforming the market in the second quarter as a result of concerns that a new administration will aim to bring down the city's real-estate prices, a source of social concern.

Sino Land rose 3.3 percent to HK$12.50 on top of its 4.1 percent rally Tuesday. Henderson Land rose 2.6 percent to HK$43.90.

Chinese shares ended flat, edging down 0.08 percent. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, which covers both A and B shares, lost 1.87 points to end at 2,227.32 on turnover of 52.4

billion yuan ($8.3 billion).

Investors took to the sidelines as China is scheduled to announce economic statistics next week, including inflation for June and gross domestic product for the second quarter.

“The market may be range-bound before China releases economic data next week,” Shen Jun, an analyst at BOC International, told AFP.

“Market confidence hasn't been restored yet as there haven't been any substantial stimulus policies.”

Insurance companies led the declines on worries over their premium income for the first half. New China Life Insurance dropped 2.43 percent to 34.20 yuan while China Pacific Insurance fell 1.82 percent to 22.10 yuan.

Energy firms rose after recent losses with Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical jumping 4.44 percent to 6.12 yuan and Datong Coal gaining 1.96 percent to 10.91 yuan. - Sapa-AFP


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