By Laura He, MarketWatch
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) -- Hong Kong stocks pulled back Wednesday, as a slide in the top-weighted HSBC Holdings PLC dragged the benchmark index lower, while investors also took a cautious stance after the Chinese central bank said it would maintain a steady monetary policy.
The biggest drag came as banking major HSBC /zigman2/quotes/202687335/delayed HK:5 +2.77% , which carries a more than 12% weighting on the Hang Seng, extended its weakness from previous sessions after a report on alleged tax evasion at its Swiss unit. Shares of HSBC tumbled 2.2%, while fellow London-based lender Standard Chartered plc /zigman2/quotes/202369078/delayed HK:2888 +0.90% slid 2.4%.
Major Chinese banks were mostly lower, after the People’s Bank of China said in its quarterly report on Tuesday that it would keep monetary policy steady and create a “neutral and moderate” financial environment for China’s economic restructuring.
China Construction Bank Corporation /zigman2/quotes/208974133/delayed HK:939 +0.16% lost 1%, both Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/201401473/delayed HK:1398 +0.97% and Bank of China Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/204682472/delayed HK:3988 0.00% fell 0.9%, Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/200705246/delayed HK:1288 +0.33% dropped 0.8%, while China Citic Bank Corporation Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/205809997/delayed HK:998 +1.39% rose 0.4%.
Over on the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP +1.30% rose for a third day in a row, up 0.5%.
In other Asian markets, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.74% gave up 0.5%, while South Korea’s Kospi Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +0.70% advanced 0.5%.
Japan markets were closed on Wednesday for a public holiday.