Hong Kong - Hong Kong's benchmark index on Thursday slipped from its highest since May 2008, while the index of major China companies listed in the offshore market advanced to a near 9-month high.

The Hang Seng Index inched down 0.1 percent at 25,297.92 points, trimming earlier losses of 0.5 percent.

The China Enterprises Index of the leading offshore Chinese listings in Hong Kong added 0.7 percent to close at its highest since December 9.

Insurer AIA Group was the biggest drag on the Hang Seng, sinking 1.3 percent.

But Chinese insurers extended gains from Wednesday, helped by news that the government is making progress with an employee stock ownership plan in financial firms.

China Life Insurance jumped 2.8 percent.

Chinese mobile carriers were buoyed by the coming launch of Apple's iPhone 6.

China Telecom soared 3.8 percent and China Mobile edged up 0.3 percent.

The recently beaten-down Macau gaming sector has started to attract buyers.

Sands China advanced 0.5 percent, its first gain in 12 sessions. - Reuters