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Hong Kong stocks close 0.50% lower

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Hong Kong shares fell 0.50 percent Friday on fears about the growing crisis in Cyprus, where the European Central Bank has threatened to cut funding if Nicosia does not hammer out a new bailout plan.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index slipped 110.58 points to 22,115.30 on turnover of HK$60.17 billion ($7.76 billion).

Nicosia has until Monday to approve a "Plan B" deal with the European Union and International Monetary Fund or face being choked of ECB funds, which would likely cause the island's banks to collapse.

Adding to pressure, an EU source said that unless Cyprus pushed a workable plan through parliament and restructured its banking sector by Tuesday it risked expulsion from the eurozone.

Global markets have this week largely been driven by the crisis in Cyprus after the government at the weekend unveiled a plan to tax deposits up to 9.9 percent as part of a deal to qualify for a EU/IMF $13 billion bailout.

The proposal met global consternation, with markets diving. Despite a revised plan that eased the burden on poorer people, lawmakers threw it out, leaving the island desperate for cash to pay its huge debts.

"The Cyprus situation caused quite a stir on global sentiment this week. Investors may not regain their risk appetite quickly," Tanrich Securities investment manager Jackson Wong told Dow Jones Newswires.

In Hong Kong PetroChina fell 1.3 percent to HK$10.24 after it reported net profit in 2012 declined 13 percent, while HSBC lost 1.19 percent to HK$83.10 and Cathat Pacific lost 0.44 percent to HK$13.50.

Among gainers China Unicom rallied 3.7 percent to HK$10.74 as net profit jumped 68 percent last year. Sourcing company Li & Fung rose 1.7 percent to HK$10.74.

However, Chinese shares closed up 0.17 percent. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index added 4.04 points to 2,328.28 on turnover of 86.0 billion yuan ($13.8 billion). The index rose 2.19 percent for the week after suffering big falls this year.

"Investors are still watching economic data as well as the property sector carefully because they are worried about government tightening," Zheshang Securities analyst Zhang Yanbing told Dow Jones Newswires.

Property developers were mixed, with Poly Real Estate rising 1.38 percent to 11.75 yuan and Zhejiang Dongri falling 2.00 percent to 9.33 yuan.

Shaanxi Qinling Cement advanced 2.30 percent to 6.23 yuan, while Jiangxi Copper fell 1.14 percent to 22.64 yuan.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130322/hong-kong-stocks-close-050-lower-0