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Hong Kong shares end 0.47% lower

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Hong Kong shares fell 0.47 percent Wednesday as an early bargain-buying rally was wiped out by a late sell-off by traders concerned about the strength of China's economy.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 102.36 points to end at 21,569.67 -- their lowest level for 2013 -- on turnover of HK$62.39 billion ($8.05 billion).

The index enjoyed an early bounce after two days of losses fuelled by data out of China on Monday showing growth in the world's number two economy slowed in January-March, indicating a recent pick-up may have stalled.

However, it suffered late losses as bargain-buying dissipated and bears returned.

"Bullishness on China is evaporating" as a net 13 percent of regional investors now expect the mainland to strengthen in the next year, compared with a net 71 percent in January, a survey from Bank of America-Merrill Lynch found.

Among the losers HSBC fell 0.56 percent to HK$79.95, Aluminium Corp. of China fell 3.09 percent to HK$2.82 and PetroChina fell 1.37 percent to HK$9.36.

However, Sun Hung Kai Properties rose 0.19 percent to HK$108.10 and Cathay Pacific added 2.85 percent to HK$12.98.

Chinese shares ended flat. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dipped 1.05 points to 2,193.80 on turnover of 60.0 billion yuan ($9.7 billion).

"The market may only bottom out sometime in the second quarter as the impact of Beijing's tightening in the real-estate market and banking sector have yet to be priced in," said Chen Wenzhao, chief strategist with China Merchants Securities.

Beijing has introduced various measures in recent months to cap soaring home prices as well as rein in the banking sector, but investors are worried they will hit liquidity.

Banks fell on worries about any new moves to control credit growth to contain inflation. China Minsheng Banking lost 2.84 percent to 9.25 yuan while China Construction Bank fell 1.92 percent to 4.59 yuan.

And gold producers continued to be hit by weaker prices for the precious metal, which saw its heaviest fall in 30 years on Monday.

Henan Yuguang Gold & Lead slipped 1.56 percent to 13.23 yuan and Zhongjin Gold was 1.36 percent slower at 12.34 yuan.

But property developers extended gains after official data Monday showed home sales jumped more than 60 percent year-on-year in the January-March quarter.

China Enterprise rose 3.01 percent to 5.82 yuan and Poly Real Estate climbed 0.48 percent to 12.52 yuan.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130417/hong-kong-shares-end-047-lower-0