Hong Kong stocks tracked overnight losses on the Wall Street to end its five-day rally on Tuesday, but losses were limited to 0.76 percent by support from a surge on the Chinese mainland market.
The benchmark Hang Seng Index opened 0.21 percent lower in the morning following overnight losses on the U.S. stock markets, but reversed losses to top the 13,000 mark at 13,051.28 at lunch break, up 74.57 points, or 0.57 percent.
The Hang Seng Index closed lower on profit taking at 12,878.09 after moving between 12,854.05 and 13,226.31. Turnover rose to 49 billion HK dollars (6.28 billion U.S. dollars) from Monday's 46.7 billion HK dollars (5.99 billion U.S. dollars).
Market heavyweight and banking giant HSBC alone contributed a rise of 61.2 points to the blue chip index as it gained 1.15 HK dollars, or 2.88 percent, at 41.15 HK dollars. It once even surged to 42 HK dollars during the day's trading.
Goldman Sachs on Tuesday upgraded HSBC from sell to neutral, citing the bank's decision to run off loss-making businesses in the United States and its relative strength compared to most of its peers in Europe.
China Construction Bank offered the second largest support by gaining 0.05 HK dollars, or 1.19 percent, to close at 4.25 HK dollars.
In contrast to the pressure from the Wall Street on any systematic risks further ahead, the Chinese mainland turned out a comfort as the Shanghai market surged 3.02 percent to close above the 2,200 mark as investors bet on further stimuli.
One of the companies under close watch, Bank of Communications edged up 0.59 percent to 5.15 HK dollars as it is expected to release annual results on Wednesday to usher in the earnings season for the mainland-based financial institutions.
Bank of China finished flat at 2.33 HK dollars, while its local unit BOC Hong Kong was down 3.3 percent at 7.04 HK dollars.
ICBC, the largest commercial lender on the mainland, closed flat.
China Life shed 1.25 HK dollars, or 4.95 percent, at 24 HK dollars, while Ping An lost 2.2 HK dollars, or 4.73 percent, to end at 44.3 HK dollars.
Most of the Hong Kong-based banks outperformed, with HSBC's local unit Hang Seng Bank gaining 0.64 percent and Bank of East Asia, 0.82 percent.
The finance sub-index was 0.37 percent higher at 18,254.80, but the utilities category even fared better to close at 35,142.44, up0.56 percent.
The properties sub-index was down 2.38 percent.
Cheung Kong, the business conglomerate headed by Hong Kong's richest man Li Ka-shing, closed at 63.5 HK dollars, down 1.93 percent, while SHK Properties, the leading residential developer in Hong Kong, slipped 1.08 percent.
The commerce and industry category lost 2.04 percent.
China Mobile, the telecommunications operator based on the mainland, lost 2.5 HK dollars, or 3.59 percent, to close at 67.1 HK dollars. Its competitor China Unicom lost 4.82 percent to close at 7.7 HK dollars.
The oil shares were all lower, with PetroChina down 0.48 percent, Sinopec down 0.48 percent and offshore oil producer CNOOC down 0.56 percent.
China Shenhua, the coal mining conglomerate, was down 0.37 percent.
HKEx, the sole exchange operator in Hong Kong, finished down 1.25 HK dollars, or 1.88 percent, at 65.1 HK dollars. (7.8 HK dollars = 1 U.S. dollar)