Hong Kong shares closed 0.27 percent lower on profit-taking Monday after enjoying a three-session winning streak and in line with a weak performance on mainland markets.
The benchmark Hang Seng Index eased 62.62 points to 23,381.94 on turnover of HK$51.28 billion ($6.62 billion).
"The mixed performance in China's shares and concerns about the economic health of the US" economy just weeks ahead of the imposition of $85-billion in cuts that were delayed in the fiscal cliff talks also hurt shares, said Louis Wong, a director at Phillip Capital Management.
Patrick Yiu, managing director of CASH Asset Management, said dealers were awaiting fresh cues from corporate earnings later this month and meetings of China's rubber-stamp parliament, the National People's Congress, in March .
Chinese banks and insurers were among the big losers. Ping An fell 1.3 percent to HK$67.15 and China Life shed 1.2 percent to HK$24.55.
Trading house Li & Fung dropped 0.8 percent to HK$10.12 on concerns over the global economic outlook.
But insurer AIA was up 1.1 percent at HK$31.40 on anticipation of a profit rise for 2012, BNP Paribas said.
Chinese shares closed down 0.45 percent in the first trading day after a week-long Lunar New Year holiday. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 10.84 points to 2,421.56 on turnover of 103.7 billion yuan ($16.6 billion).
"It's a normal pullback after recent gains, and there weren't any fresh trading catalysts during the holiday," Industrial Securities analyst Jiang Shiqing told AFP.
The index rose on its final trading day before the holiday after data showed the trade surplus rose a more-than-expected 7.7 percent in January, thanks to an improvement in exports and imports.
On Monday Everbright Securities fell 5.51 percent to 15.10 yuan, Ping An Insurance dropped 4.53 percent to 49.54 yuan and Huaxia Bank fell 2.79 percent to 11.49 yuan.
Liquor makers also fell as the government's crackdown on extravagance hurt sales during Lunar New Year, traditionally a peak sales period.
Kweichow Moutai lost 4.35 percent to 179.69 yuan, while Tuopai Shede Wine dropped 3.91 percent to 24.55 yuan.