Hong Kong stocks shot lower in early Monday trade, with most resource and real-estate names losing significant ground, while bank shares fell back despite a rally for the sector in Shanghai. The benchmark Hang Seng Index sank 1.4% lower, with the mainland-China-tracking H-share index off 1% in early trade. A weaker-than-expected read on China's official manufacturing index, coupled with a drop in HSBC's version of the same index, also helped depress sentiment. Resource shares tracked sharp losses for commodities, as Jiangxi Copper Co. fell 4.6%, gold extractor Zijin Mining Group Co. lost 2.4%, PetroChina Co. retreated 2.3%, and Cnooc Ltd. surrendered 4.1%. The closely watched property sector also saw early losses as new-home prices on the mainland saw their seventh straight monthly drop, according to data out Sunday. In early Hong Kong trading, China Resources Land Ltd. lost 2.4%, Henderson Land Development Co. fell 2.8%, and Agile Property Holdings Ltd. lost 3%. Macau casino shares saw a sell-off of their own, with Hang Seng Index components Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. and Sands China Ltd. down 2.6% and 1.8%, respectively. Financials offered a mostly lower picture as well, with some reports citing the announcement of a deposit-insurance scheme Sunday, which will require lenders to contribute to a fund. Decliners included Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. (down 1.1%), Bank of China Ltd. (down 0.8%), and China Citic Bank Corp. (down 1%), though Hong Kong shares of life insurer Ping An Insurance Group Co. rose 2.4% as the market signaled approval of the terms of the company's share placement. The poor showing by the Hong Kong-listed financials contrasted with the action in Shanghai, where investors cheered the deposit-insurance plan by bidding Bank of China 1.8% higher, while Bank of Communications Co. jumped 4.9%, and China Construction Bank Corp. climbed 3%, helping to propel the Shanghai Composite Index 1.1% higher. On the other hand, both Chinese exchanges agreed on the airline shares, bidding them higher amid the sharp losses for energy futures. In Hong Kong, China Southern Airlines Co. and Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. rose 4% each, while Air China Ltd. improved by 2.4% (though it zoomed 10% higher in Shanghai).
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