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Hong Kong bourse finishes day trading 0.95 percent lower

HONG KONG--Hong Kong shares closed 0.95 percent lower on Monday as the latest data from the United States failed to provide a clear picture on the health of the U.S. economy.

The Hang Seng Index slipped 202.56 points to 21,115.29 on turnover of HK$55.80 billion (US$7.10 billion).

Regional markets were restricted after disappointing U.S. consumer sentiment data as well as other figures showing virtually no inflationary pressure outside petrol, and weak industrial production.

“The market is listless... unless there is some exceptional good news, markets will continue to trade in a lacklustre (manner),” Peter Lai, director at DBS Vickers in Hong Kong said.

Turnover was low ahead of the release of Chinese banks' earnings, said Ben Kwong, Chief Operating Officer of brokerage KGI.

Agricultural Bank of China, which is scheduled to report its 2011 results Thursday, fell 2.2 percent to HK$3.62, while China Construction Bank, which is due to issue results Friday, ended 1.8 percent lower at HK$6.16.

Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. tumbled 4.2 percent to HK$3.89 after reporting a steep fall in its 2011 profits, while China Resources Power was down 2.8 percent at HK$14.80. But HSBC was up 1.07 percent at HK$70.80.

Chinese shares added 0.23 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index, which covers both A and B shares, was 5.44 points up at 2,410.18 on turnover of 103.0 billion yuan (US$16.3 billion).

However, traders remained quelled as they await some idea of the government's plans for monetary policy, dealers said.

The Shanghai Composite Index, which covers both A and B shares, added 0.23 percent, or 5.44 points, to 2,410.18 on turnover of 103.0 billion yuan (US$16.3 billion).

“Investors will look for support from policies to boost liquidity, as well as improving sentiment overseas,” Zhang Gang, an analyst at China Central Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.

China has cut the amount banks must keep in reserve twice since December last year and top officials say Beijing will “fine-tune” policy as the world's number two economy slows.

Resources stocks led the market gains. Kingray New Materials, a manganese producer, surged by its 10 percent daily limit to 14.51 yuan. Rising Nonferrous jumped 8.56 percent to 69.40 yuan, while Baotou Steel Rare-Earth gained 4.26 percent to 71.91 yuan.

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