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Hong Kong stocks end 0.41% lower

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HONG KONG, Dec 17 AFP

December 17 2012, 9:05PM

Hong Kong shares have finished 0.41 per cent lower following losses on Wall Street and on profit-taking after the Hang Seng Index hit a 16-month high last week.

The benchmark index on Monday eased 92.37 points to close at 22,513.61 on turnover of $HK64.44 billion ($A7.91 billion). Despite the drop, analysts expected more short-term gains.

"With funds inflow and strong A-share performance, the Hang Seng Index may test 23,000 before the year-end," South China Research said.

Chinese insurer Ping An added 1.5 per cent to $HK63.90 and China Life rose 1.0 per cent to $HK24.30.

Many blue chips, however, succumbed to profit-taking. China Overseas Land fell 1.3 per cent to $HK23.40 and China Resources Land slid 1.0 per cent to $HK20.35.

AIA's shares were suspended from the morning after US insurance giant American International Group announced it would sell its 13.69 per cent in the Asian insurer in a deal that could raise up to $US6.5 billion ($A6.19 billion).

Chinese shares ended up 0.45 per cent after a key conference at the weekend laid out economic policies for next year that will make increasing domestic demand a top priority.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index added 9.71 points to 2,160.34 on turnover of 110.6 billion yuan ($A16.86 billion).

China "will continue to implement the proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy in 2013" and make increasing domestic demand a top priority, state media said on Sunday after the two-day central economic work conference.

"Cues from the annual Central Economic Work Conference are certainly a positive for the market," Capital Securities analyst Jacky Zhang told Dow Jones Newswires.

But the gains were limited as the policies that emerged from the meeting came within market expectations and failed to excite investors, he said.

Metals and cement producers ended higher. Chengtun Mining surged by its 10 per cent daily limit to 10.95 yuan, while Jiangxi Copper rose 3.53 per cent to 22.85 yuan.

Shaanxi Qinling Cement jumped 6.47 per cent to 6.25 yuan and Taiyuan Lionhead Cement gained 3.06 per cent to 5.06 yuan.