March 7, 2019 / 8:36 AM / 3 months ago

Growth, trade concerns drag Hong Kong shares lower

* Hang Seng index ends down 0.89 pct

* China Enterprises index HSCE falls 1.14 percent

* HSI financial sector sub-index is 0.9 percent lower; property sector down 0.4 percent

March 7 (Reuters) - Shares in Hong Kong fell on Thursday on investor caution over the outlook for global growth and U.S.-China trade, as China’s finance minister reiterated Beijing’s resistance to broad easing to counter slowing growth.

** At the close of trade, the Hang Seng index was down 258.15 points or 0.89 percent at 28,779.45. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index fell 1.14 percent to 11,460.08. ** A sub-index of the Hang Seng tracking energy shares dipped 0.5 percent, while the IT sector dipped 2.08 percent, the financial sector ended 0.89 percent lower and the property sector dipped 0.38 percent. ** Reinforcing ongoing uncertainty over the prospects of an end to the U.S.-China trade war, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that trade talks with China were moving along well, but predicted either a “good deal” or no deal between the world’s two largest economies. ** In the latest round of comments indicating that China will avoid broad loosening despite a slowing economy, China’s finance minister said on Thursday that a proactive fiscal policy does not mean Beijing will open a floodgate of stimulus, adding that authorities are highly concerned about local government debt risks. ** The European Central Bank will cut growth forecasts on Thursday and is expected to provide its strongest signal yet that fresh stimulus is coming in the form of more cheap loans to stop an unexpected slowdown from becoming a downturn. ** The ECB’s meeting comes after the OECD cut forecasts for the global economy in 2019 and 2020, following on from previous downgrades in November, as it warned that trade disputes and uncertainty over Brexit would hit world commerce and businesses. ** The top gainer on the Hang Seng was Shenzhou International Group Holdings Ltd, which gained 2.25 percent, while the biggest loser was Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd, which fell 7.71 percent. ** China’s main Shanghai Composite index closed up 0.14 percent at 3,106.42 points, while the blue-chip CSI300 index ended down 1.02 percent. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.36 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 0.65 percent. ** The yuan was quoted at 6.7078 per U.S. dollar at 08:24 GMT, 0.07 percent firmer than the previous close of 6.7125. ** The top gainers among H-shares were Shenzhou International Group Holdings Ltd up 2.25 percent, followed by ZhongAn Online P & C Insurance Co Ltd, gaining 1.79 percent and Haitong Securities Co Ltd, up by 1.69 percent. ** The three biggest H-shares percentage decliners were China Life Insurance Co Ltd, which was down 4.25 percent, CITIC Securities Co Ltd, which fell 4.1 percent and China Pacific Insurance Group Co Ltd, down by 4.1 percent. (Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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