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Hong Kong stocks close 0.14% lower

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Hong Kong stocks fell 0.14 percent Wednesday giving up early gains following a strong lead from Wall Street, where US stocks surged to fresh record highs.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index lost 30.33 points to end at 22,337.49 on turnover of HK$52.28 billion ($6.73 billion). Hong Kong markets will be closed Thursday for a public holiday.

US stocks reached fresh highs Tuesday on solid manufacturing orders data and strong results from US automakers, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing at a record 14,662.01, up 89.16 or 0.61 percent.

Meanwhile investors were focusing on the outcome of a two-day meeting of the Bank of Japan starting Wednesday to see if fresh easing measures aimed at boosting the world's third biggest economy meet market expectations.

Smaller Chinese banks were sold down for the third session, after the China Banking Regulatory Commission tightened wealth management product rules.

Minsheng Bank fell 2.1 percent at HK$9.28 on top of its 11.7 percent plunge over the past two sessions, while Citic Bank fell 3.7 percent to HK$4.22, adding to its 9.9 percent fall over the same period.

However, property stocks outperformed for a second session as Chinese property curbing measures announced recently were milder than market participants had expected.

R&F Properties rose 3.2 percent to HK$13.70 and Sunac China rose 4.8 percent to HK$5.92.

Chinese shares closed down slightly on Wednesday ahead of a holiday as investors awaited key economic statistics, dealers said.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.11 percent, or 2.44 points, to 2,225.30 on turnover of 68.8 billion yuan ($11.1 billion).

The index fell 0.51 percent in three trading days this week. The stock market will be closed on Thursday and Friday for a holiday.

China will announce March inflation and trade figures next week, followed by other indicators, including gross domestic product for the first quarter, later this month.

"The market saw a day of lacklustre trading due to weak buying interest before the holiday," Haitong Securities analyst Zhang Qi told AFP.

Food companies fell after the government said seven people in China have been infected with a new strain of bird flu, sparking worries over food safety.

Shanghai Maling Aquarius slumped 8.34 percent to 7.58 yuan while chicken processor Shanghai Dajiang Food lost 4.68 percent to 3.87 yuan.

Banks bucked the trend after media reported that Chinese banks may have stepped up lending in March to boost the domestic economy.

China Merchants Bank rose 1.83 percent to 12.79 yuan while Industrial Bank gained 1.78 percent to 17.15 yuan.

-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this story --

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