China, HK stocks fall as S&P downgrade overshadows China PMI
* CSI300 -1.5 pct; SSEC -1.4 pct; HSI -1.3 pct
* S&P downgrade overshadows unexpectedly strong China PMI
* China sentiment soured by govt efforts to reduce leverage
SHANGHAI, April 1 (Reuters) - China and Hong Kong stocks fell more than 1 percent on Friday morning, as S&P's cut to China's credit outlook offset any optimism from a pick-up in March manufacturing activity.
Analysts also attributed the slide in mainland equities to renewed government efforts to reduce leverage, investor caution ahead of the Tomb Sweeping Day holiday, and expiration next week of a three-month share sales restriction imposed during January's market rout.
China's blue-chip CSI300 index fell 1.5 percent, to 3,170.36 points by the lunch break, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.4 percent, to 2,961.22 points.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index dropped 1.3 percent, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index lost 2.3 percent, to 8,800.37.
Rating agency Standard & Poor's on Thursday cut its outlook for China's sovereign credit rating to negative from stable, but maintained the rating at AA-, saying the government's reform agenda is on track but likely to proceed more slowly than expected. At the same time, S&P also downgraded the outlook for Hong Kong.
The negative sentiment from the downgrade was not countered by Friday's release of the official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), which showed activity in China's manufacturing activity unexpectedly expanded in March for the first time in nine months. Continuación...