By Laura He, MarketWatch
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HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Hong Kong stocks broke a four-day string of gains on Thursday, after a private survey showed China’s manufacturing growth eased in August.
The “flash” version of HSBC’s China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index dropped in August to 50.3 from July’s final reading of 51.7, marking the lowest level in three months, according to data out on Thursday from HSBC and Markit.
The benchmark Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +0.46% ended down 0.7%.
State-owned major banks fell across the board, with China Merchants Bank Co., Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/209899244/delayed HK:3968 +0.52% sliding 2.2%, Bank of Communications Co., Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/203442771/delayed HK:3328 +0.97% declining 1.7%, and both Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/200705246/delayed HK:1288 +1.27% and China Citic Bank Corporation Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/205809997/delayed HK:998 +0.24% down 1.6%.
Index heavyweight China Mobile Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/200868736/delayed HK:941 +1.98% fell 0.3%. The move came after state-run Xinhua News said the telecom had denied reported plans for massive layoffs involving 300,000 contract laborers. China Mobile’s smaller rivals China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/205091392/delayed HK:762 +1.65% and China Telecom Corp. /zigman2/quotes/206668971/delayed HK:728 +1.93% also said they had no immediate plans to cut jobs. Shares of China Unicom rose 0.8%, and China Telecom traded up 0.2%.
In Japan, the Nikkei Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +0.89% advanced 0.9%, while the yen /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY -0.1033% weakened to ¥103.841 from ¥103.710 a day earlier. The broader Topix index /zigman2/quotes/210598092/delayed JP:180460 +0.37% also finished up 0.9%.
On the Chinese mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP -0.32% closed down 0.4%.
In other Asian markets, Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.43% inched up 0.1%, while Seoul’s Kospi Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +0.07% fell 1.4%.