Hong Kong, Shanghai stocks slip on China data

Shares in Hong Kong and Shanghai tumbled on Monday after data showed the rate of growth in the Chinese economy slowed in the first three months of the year.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 1.43 percent, or 316.38 points, to end at 21,772.67 on turnover of HK$55.03 billion ($7.10 billion).

China said its economy grew 7.7 percent in the first quarter of the year, well below the 8.0 percent forecast in a poll of 12 economists by AFP and worse than the 7.9 percent in the previous three months.

The news raises questions about the strength of the world's number two economy, which is a key driver of global growth.

Wendy Chen, a Shanghai-based economist at Nomura Securities, told AFP: "The (growth) figure was lower than market expectations, indicating the recovery in the real economy was not on a solid foundation and remained weak."

Resources stocks were hit, with offshore oil producer CNOOC shedding 3.1 percent to HK$13.74, and coal miner Shenhua Energy off 2.4 percent at HK$26.65.

China Resources Power ended down 6.0 percent at HK$22.75.

With a big fall in the price of gold last week Zhaojin Mining plunged 9.9 percent to HK$8.60, while jewellery retailer Luk Fook lost 7.5 percent to HK$21.70.

Construction machinery maker Zoomlion eased 8.3 percent to HK$7.61 after warning of a 60-80 percent year on year fall in net profit.

Chinese shares closed down 1.13 percent. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index slid 1.13 percent, or 24.84 points, to 2,181.94 on turnover of 58.2 billion yuan ($9.4 billion), the lowest close since December 24.

"The lower-than-expected economic growth figure had an impact on the market, while weakness in metals sector also affected overall performance," Haitong Securities analyst Zhang Qi told AFP.

Metals firms were hit by weak global prices, with Jiangxi Copper dropping 4.70 percent to 20.89 yuan and aluminium producer Chalco down 2.86 percent at 4.08 yuan.

Oil firms fell on media reports that China may soon cut government-set fuel prices, which could narrow their profits. Sinopec lost 2.97 percent to 6.86 yuan while PetroChina dropped 1.27 percent to 8.52 yuan.

However, property developers rose after data showed home sales jumped more than 60 percent year-on-year in the first quarter.

Gemdale gained 3.89 percent to 6.95 yuan while Poly Real Estate rose 2.26 percent to 11.76 yuan.

dan/ia