Hong Kong shares headed into the break marginally lower on Thursday as a positive lead from Wall Street was offset by a mixed bag of Chinese data that reinforced concerns about the world's number two economy.
China's industrial output slowed during the first two months of the year as unemployment rose, official data showed, while some indicators showed a slowdown in the world's second largest economy stabilising.
The Hang Seng Index gave up its early gains and inched down seven points, to 28,799 by midday break.
On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.1 percent, to 2,994 while the Shenzhen Composite Index, shed 2.4 percent, to 1,616.
Elsewhere, Sydney and Singapore were also in negative territory, though Tokyo went into the break 0.7 percent higher and Hong Kong edged up 0.1 percent. Seoul, Taipei and Wellington were also slightly higher.
The pound retreated from nine-month highs in Asia on Thursday as investors were dogged by Brexit uncertainty.
"The Brexit soap opera continued with ... parliament voting, as expected, against leaving the European Union without a deal," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda. "Sterling inevitably rose overnight as traders piled into the hope-vs-reality trade."
But he added: "Being irrationally exuberant on the pound could be a dangerous trade at these lofty levels in the short-term.
"No one has actually asked the Europeans what they want, and they may yet impose potentially unpalatable conditions as the price of an [exit] extension." (AFP)
Last updated: 2019-03-14 HKT 12:31