Hong Kong shares close slightly lower ahead of FOMC meeting

Share prices closed the morning lower in listless trade, with investors waiting for the outcome of the US FOMC meeting tomorrow and the interim results announcement from China Mobile on Wednesday, dealers said.

Share prices closed the morning lower in listless trade, with investors waiting for the outcome of the US FOMC meeting tomorrow and the interim results announcement from China Mobile on Wednesday, dealers said.

Amid weak regional sentiment, the benchmark index will continue to trade sideways at around 9,800-10,050 points in the afternoon, they said.

The Hang Seng index closed the morning down 53.38 points or 0.53% at 9,960.68, off a high of 10,039.77 and a low of 9,946.30, on turnover of 2.386 billion hkd.

The Hang Seng August contract was at 9,911 points.

The China Enterprises index was down 57.90 points at 1,888.70 and the CAC index 6.89 points higher at 1,115.46.

The GEM index was down 1.85 points at 142.18 on turnover of 60.159 million hkd.

Francis Lun, general manager of Fulbright Securities, said trading activity was quiet this morning, with investors awaiting the outcome of the US FOMC meeting.

"Turnover was thin and there was not much fresh news ... investors were cautious and the Hang Seng Index will be rangebound at around 9,900-10,000 today," he said.

"Additionally, investors are also waiting for the interim results announcement of China Mobile on Wednesday ... there was a bit of buying interest in China Mobile this morning ... investors are expecting a modest interim dividend from the company," he said.

Among telecommunications stocks, China Mobile was up 0.25 hkd at 21.80, China Unicom flat at 5.25, PCCW down 0.03 at 1.50, and Hutchison Whampoa down 1.0 at 50.75.

In the property sector, Cheung Kong was down 0.75 at 54.75, Henderson Land off 0.75 at 26.60, while Sun Hung Kai Properties fell 1.25 to 52.50 and New World Development eased 0.15 to 5.05.

"Property stocks will continue to trade on a negative tone due to worries about a price war in the property market," Alan Kei, vice president of Taiwan Securities, said.

Investors have been concerned about a price war in the residential market since Sun Hung Kai Properties offered a substantial discount on its Park Island development.

In the financial sector, HSBC dropped 0.25 hkd to 88.25, Hang Seng Bank lost 0.50 to 85.75 and BOC Hong Kong fell 0.05 to 8.25.

Of the H-shares, China Eastern Airlines was down 0.02 at 1.21, China Southern down 0.025 at 2.80, while Chalco shed 0.02 to 1.10.

Among red-chips, TCL International was down 0.03 at 1.82, COSCO Pacific up 0.05 at 5.60, and Founder down 0.06 at 0.65.

China Everbright was down 0.55 hkd or 15.60% at 2.975 after certain mainland China media reports that China Everbright Bank, of which it owns a stake, has postponed its listing plans.

"China Everbright Bank was said to have been involved in some financial fraud," said Fulbright's Lun.

On the GEM board, Tom.com was down 0.10 at 2.675, CK Life Sciences down 0.03 at 1.74, hongkong.com down 0.009 at 0.201 and Sunevision down 0.02 at 1.03.

New-listing Inno-Tech was at 0.295 against its IPO price of 0.28 hkd, while Loulan Holdings was at 0.43 hkd against its IPO price of 0.50 hkd.

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