Hong Kong shares end lower after retail sales plunge
HONG KONG, March 4 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares finished lower on Wednesday, following weaker U.S. and European markets and as a sharp drop in domestic retail sales hurt investor sentiment.
Retail stocks including Sa Sa International, Chow Tai Fook and Giordano International sagged on news that Hong Kong retail sales in January slid 14.6 percent from a year earlier, their worst showing since 2003.
The data was released on Tuesday after the market closed.
Banking stocks also declined, as investors worried about China's slowing economic growth and on concerns that further interest rate liberalisation by Beijing would threaten the profitability of Chinese lenders listed in Hong Kong.
The Hang Seng index fell 1.0 percent to 24,465.38 points, while the China Enterprises Index lost 1.7 percent to 11,738.67.
Among the most actively traded stocks on Hong Kong's main board were China Yunnan Tin Minerals Group, down 12.7 percent to HK$0.06; Junyang Solar, up 24.7 percent to HK$0.18; and China Environment Energy, down 21.1 percent to HK$0.12.
Total trading volume of companies included in the HSI index was 1.6 billion shares.
Investors are also awaiting Thursday's opening of the annual meeting of parliament.
Senior leaders at the National People's Congress are expected to send an unambiguous signal about the extent of the slowdown when they cut this year's GDP growth target to around 7 percent, which would be the lowest growth in a quarter of a century.
(Reporting by Samuel Shen and Pete Sweeney; Editing by Kim Coghill)
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