Hong Kong shares sink 0.37% by close

Hong Kong stocks slipped 0.37 percent Wednesday following another tumble on Wall Street as plunging oil prices send global markets into disarray, although Shanghai rallied on expectations of government easing measures.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index eased 84.66 points to 22,585.84 on turnover of HK$107.79 billion (US$13.91 billion).

After last month's rally investors are fleeing for the exits as the losses in crude hammer oil-exporting countries including Russia, which has also been hit by strict Western sanctions for its support of Ukranian separatists.

The Russian ruble has slumped to record lows against the dollar and has lost about half its value against the euro, leading the country's central bank to ramp up interest rates -- without much success.

As a consequence of Russia's battering global investors are beginning to fret over the impact on other economies, especially in emerging markets.

The Hang Seng had started the day in positive territory thanks to bargain-buying but the shadow of weak oil and Russia's troubles soon descended.

Traders are now looking to the conclusion of the US Federal Reserve's policy meeting later in the day, hoping for guidance on its plans for interest rates as the world's top economy returns to health.

Cathay Pacific Airways fell 1.98 percent to HK$16.84, Tencent tumbled 2.50 percent to HK$105.30 and HSBC dipped 0.07 percent to HK$72.55.

Sino Land shed 0.65 percent to HK$12.16 but China Mobile was up 0.17 percent at HK$87.90.

But in mainland China the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.31 percent, or 39.50 points, to 3,061.02 on turnover of 580.3 billion yuan ($94.9 billion). The close was the highest since November 11, 2010.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China's second exchange, fell 0.71 percent, or 10.64 points, to 1,492.94 on turnover of 309.6 billion yuan.

"The market is buoyed by fresh funds flowing into the market and investors wagered on banks today due to their relatively low valuations," Haitong Securities analyst Zhang Qi told AFP.

Shanghai rose above the symbolic 3,000 mark on Tuesday after another round of weak economic data sparked hopes of further policy easing, analysts said.

The huge influx of investors has seen the composite index surge by a quarter over the past month, helped by an interest rate cut on November 21.

On the Shanghai market Industrial and Commercial Bank of China gained 5.18 percent to 4.47 yuan while Agricultural Bank of China added 4.52 percent to 3.24 yuan.

Securities firms extended gains on expectations of strong earnings reports for December. Shanghai-listed Citic Securities surged by its 10 percent daily limit to 32.75 yuan while Shenzhen-listed Changjiang Securities also jumped 10 percent to 18.49 yuan.

dan/sm