China shares test week low after hawkish signal, Hong Kong slips too

Clement Tan
Tuesday, 5 Nov 2013 | 12:56 AM ET

* HSI -0.6 pct, H-shares -0.7 pct, CSI300 -0.7 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 tested their lowest in a week on Tuesday, leading Hong Kong markets lower, as growth-sensitive counters were hit by hawkish comments from Premier Li Keqiang ahead of a key Communist Party policy meeting this weekend.

The financial sector was further roiled by fears that more competition will hurt margins after the official China Securities Journal reported a private banking pilot may start early next year.

By 0530 GMT, the CSI300 of the leading Shanghai and Shenzhen A-shares was down 0.7 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.4 percent. Earlier, both onshore indexes had tested their lowest in five sessions and underperformed most Asian markets.

The Hang Seng Index sank 0.6 percent to 23,047.8 points, while the China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong slid 0.7 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 at Bank of Communications International.

But losses did not come in exceptionally heavy volumes in both markets, suggesting there was no panic selling.

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 1.3 percent in Shenzhen and Industrial Bank tanking 3.2 percent in Shanghai.

China Construction Bank (CCB) was among the worst performing of the "Big Four" Chinese banks, sliding 1.2 percent in Hong Kong and 0.5 percent in Shanghai.

The Chinese property sector slid again after the 21st Century Business Herald newspaper reported that the Beijing city government may not allow developers to raise home prices before the end of this year.

China Vanke fell 1 percent in Shenzhen, while Poly Real Estate sank 1.8 percent in Shanghai and China Overseas Land shed 1.9 percent in Hong Kong.

The sector has been hit by policy uncertainty in recent sessions as rising home prices have raised expectations that the central government could move to increase curbs on the property market.

But there were gains for HSBC Holdings , whose Hong Kong shares climbed 1.5 percent after Europe's largest bank posted a better-than-expected 10 percent rise in third quarter profits.

Shares of Lenovo Group rose 1 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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