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HK stocks fall back in light turnover

HONG Kong stocks retreated yesterday in light turnover as lower oil prices took their toll.

The Hang Seng Index closed down 130.26 points at 16,991.56 led by a 1.4 percent drop in HSBC Holdings.

The strength of the market in recent weeks, with the benchmark Hang Seng Index jumping more than 50 percent since early March, have made investors cautious about valuations, said analysts.

Money was not flowing into the market as fast as it was two weeks ago, partly because neither Hong Kong nor the Chinese mainland are inexpensive places to buy shares anymore, said Linus Yip, strategist with First Shanghai Securities.

"The magnitude of the impending correction very much hinges on news from the United States and China," he said.

Analysts also blamed this week's public holidays - tomorrow in Hong Kong and tomorrow and Friday on the mainland - for the sluggish investor participation.

Growing fears about the Democratic People's Republic of Korea weighed on other equity markets including Japan and the Republic of Korea, and sent crude oil below US$61 a barrel.

Offshore oil specialist CNOOC fell 3.3 percent in Hong Kong after a strong week last week after oil rose US$5 a barrel.

Hong Kong-based property developers advanced to nine-month highs with the prevailing environment of low interest rates seen as driving up demand for real estate. In recent days, top brokers, including Morgan Stanley, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch and JP Morgan, have taken a favorable view, raising price forecasts amid expectations that demand will recover further in the second half of 2009.

The China Enterprises Index of top mainland companies dropped 1.2 percent to close at 9,684.07.


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