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Hong Kong: Shares slip as investors fear a US rate hike is coming

[HONG KONG] Hong Kong stocks closed at the lowest level in 2-1/2 months on Thursday, joining most Asian markets in sliding on the growing possibility of another US rate hike soon.

The Hang Seng index fell 0.7 per cent, to 19,694.33, the lowest close since March 1. The China Enterprises Index lost 0.7 per cent, to 8,243.20 points.

Investors, already worried about China's economic health, became more cautious as minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting showed central bank officials felt the US economy could be ready for that in June.

The prospects of further US monetary tightening "would certainly exert pressure on the stock market," said Alex Fan, strategist at GF Holdings (Hong Kong) Corp.

Almost all main sectors fell, with energy shares leading the decline.

REUTERS