December 19, 2016 / 5:37 AM / 2 years ago

China stocks fall after Beijing's "neutral" policy signal; HK also down

* SSEC 0.0 pct, CSI300 -0.2 pct, HSI -0.8 pct

* Property market will be a focus of risk control in 2017

* New home price monthly growth on mainland halves in November

SHANGHAI, Dec 19 (Reuters) - China stocks dipped on Monday morning as risk appetite was curbed by persistent signs of liquidity stress in the banking system, as well as Beijing’s vow to contain asset bubbles next year by keeping monetary policy “prudent and neutral.”

The bearish sentiment spilled over to Hong Kong, where main indexes were already under pressure from a sluggish insurance sector amid media reports of fresh curbs on insurance purchases by mainlanders.

The blue-chip CSI300 index fell 0.2 percent, to 3,339.42 points at the end of the morning session, while the Shanghai Composite Index was unchanged at 3,122.57 points.

Markets were cautious after China’s top leaders vowed over the weekend to stem asset bubbles in 2017 and place greater importance on the prevention of financial risk, while keeping the economy on a path of stable and healthy growth.

The policy signal from the economic planning meeting “disillusioned investors who had envisioned a further loosening in monetary policies. Now it’s clear that policies tend to tighten,” Changjiang Securities said in its latest strategy report.

Meanwhile, China’s bond market weakness persisted on Monday, deepening concerns over liquidity stress toward the year-end. The price of China’s 10-year treasury futures for March delivery tumbled more than 1 percent soon after open, although it trimmed some of the losses by midday.

China’s property stocks dropped 1.4 percent by midday, after the sector was identified by China’s top leaders as a focus of risk control in 2017.

Sentiment was further dampened by index heavyweight China Vanke Co Ltd, whose share tumbled more than 4.7 percent after the biggest residential property company in China terminated a key deal with Shenzhen Metro Group.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index dropped 0.8 percent, to 21,851.88 points, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index lost 1.0 percent, to 9,374.09 points.

Shares of AIA Group Ltd retreated nearly 1.5 percent on news that Chinese would face more curbs when buying insurance in Hong Kong, according to Bloomberg report citing anonymous sources.

“The indexes in Hong Kong were mainly hurt by several heavyweights,” said Steven Leung, director at UOB Kay Hian in Hong Kong, adding that China’s tighter property policies and fresh curbs on insurance purchases pressured the market.

A gauge of Chinese property companies listed in Hong Kong lost nearly 1.9 percent.

Providing some relief to the depressed backdrop, worries about rising diplomatic tensions between the world’s two biggest economic powers eased after China agreed to return a U.S. drone it had seized.

Reporting by Jackie Cai and John Ruwitch; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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