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China shares underperform Asia after tightening signal, Hong Kong sinks too

Clement Tan
Monday, 4 Nov 2013 | 10:07 PM ET

* HSI -0.8 pct, H-shares -1 pct, CSI300 -1.5 pct

* China risks stoking inflation with more easing - Premier Li

* Chinese financials hit on private bank pilot report

* HSBC climbs after positive Q3 earnings

HONG KONG, Nov 5 (Reuters) - China shares underperformed most Asian markets early on Tuesday, leading Hong Kong lower, after Premier Li Keqiang signalled a shift towards monetary tightening ahead of a key Communist Party policy meeting this weekend.

Growth-sensitive sectors led Chinese shares down. The financial sector was further roiled by fears more competition will hurt margins after the official China Securities Journal reported a private banking pilot may start early next year.

By 0240 GMT, the CSI300 of the leading Shanghai and Shenzhen A-shares was down 1.5 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index slid 1.1 percent. Both onshore indexes touched their lowest in five sessions.

The Hang Seng Index sank 0.8 percent to 23,005.2 points, while the China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong shed 1 percent, once again struggling at its 200-day moving average.

"His comments are different from what people were expecting. He definitely sounds more hawkish now and this is a shift from what he said earlier this year about bottom line growth," said Hong Hao, chief strategist, Bank of Communications International.

In comments made in an Oct. 21 speech that was only published in full late on Monday, Li said China needs 7.2 percent economic growth to generate 10 million jobs, but that more stimulus will be more difficult since printing more money will cause inflation.

He added that reform was important and that short-term fiscal or monetary stimulus was not sustainable.

Chinese financials were the biggest drags on benchmark indexes onshore and offshore. Mid-sized lenders were the bigger losers, with Ping An Bank sinking 2.3 percent in Shenzhen and Industrial Bank tanking 3.8 percent in Shanghai.

China Construction Bank (CCB) was among the worst performing of the "Big Four" Chinese banks, sliding 1.3 percent in Hong Kong and 0.9 percent in Shanghai.

But there were gains for HSBC Holdings , whose Hong Kong shares climbed 1.4 percent after Europe's largest bank posted a better-than-expected 10 percent rise in third quarter profits.

Shares of Lenovo Group rose 0.8 percent after BlackBerry abandoned its plan to sell itself. Chinese technology giant Lenovo had been exploring the possibility of acquiring the telecom equipment company.

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