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Hong Kong shares end 1.53% lower

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Hong Kong shares closed 1.53 percent lower on Wednesday, tracking a broad selloff across Asia after indications of a likely pullback of the US stimulus programme.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index lost 334.86 points to 21,588.84 on turnover of HK$51.78 billion (US$6.68 billion).

Hong Kong trade initially took cues from US stocks, which suffered sharp declines after comments from Federal Reserve officials sparked jitters over a likely winding up of the US stimulus.

The chiefs of the Federal Reserve's Chicago and Atlanta branches both said that the central bank could begin tapering its $85 billion a month quantitative easing programme in September, but stressed that economic growth needed to hold steady or improve.

The growing speculation led to a broad selloff across Asia, with Tokyo leading regional declines with a four percent plunge.

Financial shares dragged on the index, with Bank of China falling 2.2 percent to HK$31.5 and China Construction Bank declining 2.1 percent to HK$5.57.

British banking giant HSBC continued to fall after its disappointing earnings report late Monday, closing down 1.2 percent to HK$84.10.

Chinese shares closed down 0.67 percent. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 13.72 points to 2,046.78 on turnover of 91.3 billion yuan ($14.9 billion).

The Chinese government is due to announce trade data on Thursday and inflation figures on Friday.

"Wait-and-see sentiment usually prevails in the market before major economic data comes out, while falls in some active sectors like media also hurt overall performance," Zheshang Securities analyst Zhang Yanbing told AFP.

Media shares fell on profit-taking. Chinese Universe Publishing and Media lost 4.64 percent to 18.50 yuan while Shanghai Xinhua Media dropped 4.48 percent to 5.54 yuan.

Metal shares were mixed, with zinc producer Tibet Summit Industrial losing 2.27 percent to 9.90 yuan while Xiamen Tungsten rising 1.81 percent to 29.27 yuan.

Property developers bucked the trend amid growing expectations that the government may lift restrictions on financing of real estate firms.

Sundy Land Investment surged 7.58 percent to 5.68 yuan while Poly Real Estate rose 2.31 percent to 11.07 yuan.

-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report --

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130807/hong-kong-shares-end-153-lower