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Hong Kong stocks close 0.24% lower

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Hong Kong shares ended 0.24 percent lower on Monday following losses on Wall Street last week, while investors bet the US Federal Reserve will soon start winding down its stimulus programme.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 54.11 points to 22,463.70 on turnover of HK$44.31 billion ($5.72 billion).

Market players have been intensely speculating about when the United States will begin tapering its massive $85 billion a month bond-buying programme, which has flooded markets with cash.

The Fed is due to release the minutes of its latest policy meeting on Wednesday and until then, analysts say, trade will likely remain cautious.

Steven Leung, head of institutional sales at UOB Kay Hian, told Dow Jones Newswires trade in Hong Kong would be "quite sluggish" until dealers are given clues about when a tapering might begin.

Property shares meanwhile slumped in Hong Kong after official data released Sunday showed Chinese home prices continued to rise at a steady clip.

Prices rose an average 6.7 percent year-on-year in July, up from 6.1 percent in June, according to calculations by The Wall Street Journal.

The data gave fresh fuel to worries that China will seek to slow the rise in prices with official curbs on the market.

Shares of residential-property builder Country Garden fell 2.6 percent to HK$4.91 while Agile Property shares declined 2.8 percent to HK$8.36.

Chinese shares closed up 0.83 percent, reversing earlier losses and helped by selective buying of banking shares, dealers said.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 17.15 points to 2,085.60 on turnover of 81.5 billion yuan ($13.3 billion).

The market fell earlier in the day on Monday after a trading error by a securities firm last week triggered fears of tighter control over brokerages.

"Heavyweight banking stocks were higher on cheap valuations and that helped stabilise the market," Zheshang Securities analyst Zhang Yanbing told AFP.

China Minsheng Banking jumped 4.0 percent to 9.38 yuan while Industrial Bank rose 3.43 percent to 10.56 yuan.

Internet security-related shares gained after China's stock regulator said it was investigating Everbright Securities for a trading glitch that briefly sent the Shanghai index up more than five percent on Friday.

Software developer China National Software & Service surged by its 10 percent daily limit to 27.20 yuan while Shanghai Baosight Software jumped 7.69 percent to 29.12 yuan.

Brokerages ended lower, with Southwest Securities losing 3.84 percent to 9.01 yuan and China Merchants Securities dropping 3.23 percent to 11.07 yuan.

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