Hong Kong shares close flat

Hong Kong shares ended flat Thursday, with profit-taking wiping out early gains that had been fanned by a record close on Wall Street and upbeat comments from the US Federal Reserve.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index dipped 13.99 points to 23,167.73 on turnover of HK$49.49 billion (US$6.39 billion).

US shares rallied after the Fed's policy committee said it would slash a further $10 billion off its monthly bond-buying and maintain its "highly accommodative" monetary policy of record low interest rates.

Bank policymakers said in a statement economic growth "has rebounded in recent months" from the first-quarter contraction, while household spending and business investment were both rising.

However, while that had been expected, there was no mention of an earlier hike in interest rates than mid-2015, providing dealers with at least another year of ultra-cheap money.

There had been speculation that a recent run of upbeat economic data -- including rising inflation -- would prompt the bank to consider bringing forward its timetable.

Fed boss Janet Yellen told reporters there is "no mechanical formula" for when the Fed will lift benchmark rates following the end of stimulus.

On Wall Street the S&P 500 climbed 0.77 percent to tap another all-time high, the Dow gained 0.58 percent and the tech-rich Nasdaq rose 0.59 percent.

In Hong Kong trade Cathay Pacific Airways fell 0.69 percent to HK$14.46 per share, China Mobile dipped 0.20 percent to HK$75.50 and HSBC was unchanged at HK$80.90 while Henderson Land Development dipped 0.64 percent to HK$46.50.

Internet firm Tencent eased 0.43 percent to HK$115.7, Bank of China edged up 0.12 percent to HK$3.48 and PetroChina was 1.04 percent higher at HK$9.69.

But in China the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 1.55 percent, or 31.78 points, to 2,023.74 on turnover of 74.6 billion yuan ($12.0 billion).

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China's second exchange, dropped 2.65 percent, or 28.30 points, to 1,040.42 on turnover of 99.5 billion yuan.

China suffered a liquidity crunch in last June with interbank lending rates surging to record highs, and analysts said concerns of a resurgence of the crisis were growing.

"Investors are worried if the liquidity shortage will repeat as it approaches mid-year," BOC International analyst Shen Jun told AFP.

"New share issues launched recently affected market sentiment as some funds were diverted," Shen said.

Four companies on Wednesday started allowing investors to subscribe for their new shares ahead of planned domestic listings, with two more following suit on Thursday and Friday, according to Chinese state media.

Software developers fell on profit-taking. China National Software & Service tumbled by its 10 percent daily limit to 21.34 yuan per share while Inspur Software slumped 9.88 percent to 21.17 yuan.

Rare earth producers were mixed following media reports that China increased its annual exploitation quota for the minerals by 15 percent this year.

Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth lost 1.51 percent to 18.92 yuan but Xiamen Tungsten gained 1.21 percent to 25.09 yuan.