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Hong Kong stocks fall 0.34%

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Hong Kong shares closed 0.34 percent lower on Thursday, in line with a regional sell-off and ahead of the release of closely watched Chinese economic data.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 79.93 points to 23,177.00 on turnover of HK$79.04 billion ($10.20 billion).

Beijing will release on Friday trade and inflation data for January, looking for a better insight into the state of the world's number two economy, on the last day before a week-long holiday on the mainland for Lunar New Year.

"Investors are cautious ahead of the long holidays," said Ben Kwong, chief operating officer at KGI Asia.

China Overseas Land slipped 1.8 percent to HK$21.90 and China Resources Land lost 3.2 percent to HK$21.15 on fears over possible measures to rein in property prices.

Macau casino operator Sands China fell 0.6 percent to HK$36.10, on top of its 5.2 percent loss Wednesday, which was fuelled by fears of a Beijing crackdown on junket trips to the gambling centre from the mainland.

Galaxy Entertainment dropped 2.1 percent to HK$32.30, following a 5.4 percent fall Wednesday.

China's largest aluminium maker Chalco dropped 2.8 percent to HK$3.53.

Chinese shares closed down 0.66 percent, snapping an eight-day winning streak. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 15.95 points to 2,418.53 on turnover of 109.3 billion yuan ($17.5 billion).

"A correction was overdue given how much the overall market has run up," Minsheng Securities analyst Zheng Pin told Dow Jones Newswires.

The market has gained more than seven percent this year, adding to a rally that began in December.

China Minsheng Banking fell 5.98 percent to 11.00 yuan, New China Life Insurance dropped 2.73 percent to 29.18 yuan and China Merchants Securities fell 1.73 percent to 13.60 yuan.

Oil giant PetroChina slid 0.11 percent to 9.26 yuan while Sinopec was unchanged at 6.90 yuan after Beijing announced Wednesday stricter motor fuel standards to cut harmful emissions.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130207/hong-kong-stocks-fall-034