HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Hong Kong shares headed for their first loss in three days on Wednesday, tracking weakness in the rest of the region as concerns over Britain's exit from the European Union weighed on risk appetite.
The Hang Seng Index had lost 0.6% to 28,752.11 by noon. Financial heavyweights China Construction Bank and HSBC Holdings declined 1.1% and 0.7%, respectively, while technology major Tencent Holdings shed 0.8%. The three stocks contributed most to the gauge's losses by points.
Ping An Insurance Group added 1.5% following a 20.6% jump in profit for 2018 and an 11% increase in revenue. Separately, Ping An said its board approved a proposal to spend between five billion yuan ($745 million) and 10 billion yuan to buy back yuan-denominated A-shares listed in Shanghai. Ping An shares were up 2.6% in Shanghai.
Risk sentiment appeared to be on shaky ground after British lawmakers voted against Prime Minister Theresa May's amended Brexit deal on Tuesday. A number of parliamentary votes are planned for this week ahead of Britain's scheduled exit from the European Union on March 29. One of the votes will focus on whether the nation should exit the EU without a deal, while another on the possibility of extending the Brexit deadline. The Nikkei Asia300 Index shed 0.6%, while the Japanese yen, considered to be a safe-haven asset, climbed 0.1% against the dollar.
Market attention is scattered right now, said Jason Lee, vice president for stocks at Hong Kong consultancy Investment Strategy Institute. With U.S.-China trade talks expected to have a positive outcome, investors are paying more attention to individual earnings reports, he said.
The Hong Kong dollar was at 7.8498 against the U.S. dollar, toward the weaker end of its 7.75 to 7.85 trading range.
In the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.4% to 3,049.01, while the yuan traded onshore fell 0.1% against the dollar to 6.7110.
"When A-shares decline significantly, Hong Kong stocks will follow suit," Lee added. With the Shanghai Composite holding up well above 3,000 points, the Hang Seng Index is also consolidating at a relatively high level, he said.
Chinese telecommunications equipment maker ZTE slid 5.4% in Hong Kong after saying its controlling shareholder Zhongxingxin Telecom plans to reduce its stake in the company by 3%.
Xtep International Holdings surged 15.1%. The sportswear company on Tuesday reported a 60.9% increase in 2018 net profit.
Fund house Value Partners Group slid 2.7% after reporting an 88.8% plunge in full-year net profit and a 60% drop in revenue.
CGN Power fell 1.4% after reporting a 9% decrease in 2018 net profit, even as revenue increased 11.4% from a year ago.
Property developer Times China Holdings jumped 13.4% following a 65% increase in its full-year net profit and a 48.7% rise revenue.
Maoyan Entertainment declined 3.6% after saying it agreed to subscribe to 236.6 million shares of media and entertainment group Huanxi Media for HK$390.6 million ($49.8 million). Huanxi Media climbed 7.7%.
Ronshine China Holdings advanced 1.6% after saying it expects core net profit for 2018 to have increased 60% from a year ago.
-- Amy Lam