HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares suffered their steepest single-day percentage retreat in two weeks on Thursday amid uncertainty over trade negotiations between Chinese and U.S. officials.
The Hang Seng Index lost 1.3% at 30,313.37, with 47 of its 50 members declining and two ending little changed. Tencent Holdings, the most valuable company listed in Hong Kong, pulled back 2.1% to halt a three-day winning streak.
Mainland financial heavyweights China Construction Bank and Ping An Insurance Group lost 1.8% and 1.4%, respectively. Public-transportation major MTR rose 0.8%, the only stock on the index to advance.
Concerns that discussions between Chinese officials and a visiting American delegation led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin may not ease trade tensions between the two nations were in focus across the region. The Nikkei Asia300 Index fell 1.2%.
Vicks Poon, head of investment advisory at Fubon Bank (Hong Kong), said he did not expect the negotiations to achieve a "meaningful" result. "The difference in stance between the U.S. and China is large and one-time talks cannot resolve most issues," he said. "Most likely, both sides will state their wish lists only."
Markets on Thursday also digested the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy review that concluded the previous day. The central bank held back on further interest rate rises as widely expected.
Poon said the Fed's gradual withdrawal of liquidity is having a global impact, causing higher market volatility in both the U.S. and Hong Kong. On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite edged 0.6% higher while the yuan traded onshore strengthened 0.2% against the U.S. dollar at 6.3458.
Guangzhou Automobile Group slid 5.3% in Hong Kong after reporting a 3.2% decline in sales volume for April at 164,315 units.
Esprit Holdings fell 2.2% in Hong Kong after the fashion retailer on Wednesday reported a 1.3% decrease in January-March revenue from a year earlier to 3.84 billion Hong Kong dollars ($489.2 million). The company said on Thursday that it would close its loss-making operations in Australia and New Zealand.
Casino operator SJM Holdings rose 5.2% and was among the most actively traded stocks in Hong Kong. The company on Wednesday reported a 25.8% increase in January-March profit to HK$730 million and a 6.7% rise in net gaming revenue to HK$8.41 billion.
Landing International Development gained 19.2% after announcing earlier this week that the city council in the metro Manila community of Paranque had approved its plan to build a casino resort.
Metal products trader Lee Kee Holdings added 4.6% after saying it expects to report a profit of about HK$90 million for the year ended March 31, compared with HK$41 million year earlier.
-- Amy Lam