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HONG KONG: Hong Kong shares ended lower on Monday as index heavyweight tech stocks fell, while casino operators soared after a government announcement eased concerns over the gambling industry.

The Hang Seng index fell 0.7% to 24,218.03, while the China Enterprises Index lost 1.1% to 8,463.88 points.

China’s economy grew faster than expected in the final quarter of 2021 but the growth was still at its weakest pace in one-and-half years, prompting the central bank to unexpectedly cut loan rates.

The Hang Seng Tech index fell 0.8%, with Tencent Holdings and Meituan down 1.7% and 1.8%, respectively.

Sands China Ltd surged 14.6% to become the biggest percentage gainer on the Hang Seng Index, and a sub-index tracking gaming stocks listed in Hong Kong jumped the most since September 2021 to end up 8.6%.

Macau’s government announced that the number of new casino operators allowed to function in the world’s largest gambling hub would be limited to six with an operating period of up to 10 years.

Mainland developers listed in Hong Kong retreated 3.4%, while consumer staples lost 2.2%. Country Garden Holdings slumped 8.1%, while Logan Group and Sunac China Holdings finished down more than 5% each, as worries over developers’ debt woes remained.

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