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Hong Kong stocks finish flat

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Hong Kong shares closed flat Thursday, down a meagre 0.01 percent, after trading was cancelled the previous day because of a typhoon.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index lost just 1.99 points to 22,539.25 on turnover of HK$77.61 billion (US$10.0 billion).

A series of mixed earnings reports left investors with little direction, compounded by the rest of Asia mimicking losses on Wall Street.

China Mobile, the world's biggest mobile operator by subscribers, said Thursday its net profit for the first six months of 2013 grew by 1.5 percent, beating analysts' predictions.

On Wednesday -- when the Hong Kong markets were closed by Typhoon Utor -- flag carrier Cathay Pacific anounced it had swung to a lower than expected first-half net profit of HK$24 million ($3.1 million).

But other reports provided less optimism for investors. Chinese Internet major Tencent Holdings fell 0.5 percent to HK$368.00 after the company posted a second-quarter profit below expectations, due in part to marketing costs for its popular messaging app WeChat.

"Corporate results such as Tencent (are not) encouraging, providing further excuses for correction," KGI Asia chief operating officer Ben Kwong told Dow Jones Newswires. "We expect the HSI (Hang Seng index) to hover around the current level for a short term consolidation."

Auto maker Brilliance China, meanwhile, reported strong sales from its joint venture with Germany's BMW Group, sending shares up 7 percent to HK$11.40, an all-time high.

Chinese shares ended down 0.87 percent due to a lack of fresh trading cues amid worries over the domestic economy, dealers said.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 18.26 points to 2,081.88 on turnover of 84.7 billion yuan ($13.8 billion).

"The market had factored in positive economic data announced earlier and it will likely remain in consolidation in the short term," Zheshang Securities analyst Zhang Yanbing told AFP.

"It will require catalysts like positive data for the market to regain an upward trend," he added.

Medical shares fell on media reports that authorities will launch a three-month probe into unfair competition in the pharmaceutical industry, among others.

Tianjin Zhongxin Pharmaceutical Group tumbled 7.19 percent to 13.30 yuan while Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine lost 5.94 percent to 32.76 yuan.

Shinva Medical Instrument dropped 3.93 percent to 49.59 yuan and Topchoice Medical Investment fell 2.46 percent to 28.91 yuan.

Cement producers extended losses. Zhejiang Jianfeng Group shed 2.76 percent to 8.82 yuan while Anhui Conch Cement dropped 0.98 percent to 16.17 yuan.

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