Hong Kong shares end at 1-month low on yuan devaluation fears
HONG KONG Aug 17 (Reuters) - Hong Kong's key share index fell to a more than one-month low on Monday, ignoring a firmer close in Chinese stocks, as fears of further depreciation in the yuan drove investors to switch their focus back to the weak local economy.
The Hang Seng index fell 0.7 percent, to 23,814.65, the lowest close since July 8. The China Enterprises Index lost 0.9 percent to 10,962.24 points, the lowest close since December 2014.
Analysts said Hong Kong's market suffered from the negative implications of yuan devaluation, the weakening economic outlook and the imminent U.S. interest rate hike, hammering sectors including airlines, property and autos.
Chinese stocks recouped early losses but gains were capped by fears that Beijing would let the yuan depreciate further, despite statements from the central bank last week that it sees no reason for more declines.
The yuan has moved little since Friday, but market watchers believe the currency is likely to remain under downward pressure as the economy struggles, keeping pressure on shares of Chinese importers and firms with high U.S. dollar-denominated debt.
ING said in a research note that it forecasts a cumulative 5 percent spot devaluation from last Tuesday's pre-depreciation level and expects damage from financial market volatility triggered by the exchange rate reform to dent third-quarter GDP growth.
Chinese insurers fell on concerns about potential claims after massive explosions in the port of Tianjin. Ping An Insurance Group fell 1.0 percent and China Life lost 1.6 percent.
Singamas Container Holdings fell 4 percent after it said its depots were damaged in blasts and one employee was missing. (Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
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