December 22, 2016 / 5:58 AM / 2 years ago

Hong Kong stocks slip on weaker risk appetite, China pulled lower by banks

* SSEC -0.2 pct, CSI300 -0.3 pct, HSI -0.9 pct

* Hong Kong trade thins as Christmas nears, tracks Wall Street

* China banks, property companies lead broad declines

SHANGHAI, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Hong Kong stocks slid on Thursday, tracking losses in global markets, with investors reluctant to buy risky assets ahead of the Christmas holiday.

China stocks also fell, with strength in utility stocks offset by weak bank and property shares.

The Hang Seng index dropped 0.9 percent, to 21,625.25 points, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index lost 1.3 percent, to 9,208.96 points.

The CSI300 index fell 0.3 percent, to 3,327.58 points, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.2 percent, to 3,131.76 points.

In the Hong Kong stock market, which is more exposed to its global counterparts, the appetite for risk was curbed by a weaker Wall Street, where investors worried that a post-election rally meant that stocks were overvalued.

Meanwhile, trading was thin with many investors already departing ahead of the weekend’s Christmas break.

“Investors are inactive as the holiday is near,” said Linus Yip, strategist at First Shanghai Securities Ltd, adding there was little news to change the market’s sluggish trend.

Yip said sentiment was also partly hurt by the weaknesses among Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong, with banks dragged down by persistent liquidity concerns on the mainland.

Nearly all sectors in Hong Kong retreated at the lunch break, with financial stocks among the biggest decliners, down more than 1 percent.

In China, markets were dampened by news the insurance regulator was making it much harder for insurers to get new licences, in the latest move to rein in some insurers’ aggressive stock investments that have raised concerns.

A recent bond scandal also weighed on sentiment after China’s central bank asked its branches to look into entrusted bond holding agreements between some commercial banks and non-financial firms.

Property stocks fell after President Xi Jinping said China’s approach to regulating its red-hot property market would include financial, fiscal, tax, land, and regulatory measures as Beijing looks to develop a long-term mechanism for an industry prone to speculation.

“The markets wobble in a narrow range today, but room for further declines is limited,” said Zhang Yanbin, an analyst at Zheshang Securities, adding that some state-owned enterprises (SOE) continued to benefit from Beijing’s support of mixed-ownership reform.

Energy shares received a boost from index heavyweight PetroChina Co Ltd, which climbed to a nearly one-year intraday high on restructuring hopes.

“But companies remain short of money as China’s fiscal year-end on Dec. 31 is close, so they are unwilling to go long on stocks,” Zhang said.

Reporting by Jackie Cai and John Ruwitch; Editing by Jacqueline Wong

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