SHANGHAI, April 1 (Reuters) - China and Hong Kong stocks were little changed at the open on Friday, but edged lower as investors weighed the impact of S&P's downgrade of the outlook for the country's economy versus unexpected growth in China's March manufacturing activity.
Rating agency S&P 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.
Potentially offsetting the negative sentiment from the downgrade, an official survey released before the opening bell on Friday showed activity in China's manufacturing sector unexpectedly expanded in March, fuelling hopes that downward pressure on the world's second-largest economy is easing.
The CSI300 index fell 0.3 percent to 3,207.62 points at 1:53 GMT, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.4 percent to 2,993.20 points.
The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was down 0.5 percent, to 20,673.85 points. (Reporting by Samuel Shen and Pete Sweeney; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)