Hong Kong stocks slid 0.17 percent in a volatile session on Monday, as weak U.S. jobs data weighed on exporters including Li & Fung, while HSBC dropped after its chief executive expressed caution about the outlook for growth.
A public holiday in China also damped trading sentiment in Hong Kong. China's equities markets are closed from October1 to 8 for the National Day holiday. Trading will resume on October 9.
"The market is hesitant to invest with economic growth very slow in the U.S. Although growth in China is picking up, China's economy is export oriented, so if the U.S. is slowing down it could set back the buying power of their consumers," said Alfred Chan, chief dealer at Cheer Pearl Investment.
"There is no market in China, so there is no indication at all for Hong Kong investors."
The benchmark Hang Seng Index, which swung from losses to gains, fell 35.41 points to 20,340.08.
Turnover was HK$23.2 billion ($3 billion), down from Friday's HK$31.9 billion.
HSBC slid 1.4 percent. Chief Executive Michael Geoghegan expressed caution about "growing too fast" because he feared a second economic downturn could force the bank to make write-downs.
Consumer goods exporter Li & Fung lost 3.36 percent on concern that a rising jobless rate would further cut consumer spending in the U.S.
U.S. employers shed more jobs in September than in August, highlighting the fragility of the economy's recovery from its worst recession in 70 years.
"U.S. consumer spending has been the engine of growth for the global economy. Now that engine has stalled as the unemployment situation worsens," said Francis Lun, general manager at Fulbright Securities.
The China Enterprises Index of top locally listed mainland Chinese stocks was up 0.14 percent at 11,542.92, led by a 5.1 percent gain in cement maker Anhui Conch.
Hong Kong shares have fallen in six out of the last seven sessions to a three-week low on Friday.
Bucking the trend, toys-to-property company RBI Holdings extended its gains, rising 8.2 percent. The stock more than tripled on Friday after it said it would acquire Apollo Precision, a maker of silicon-based thin film photovoltaic modules, for HK$4.18 billion ($539.4 million), to cash in on growing demand for solar energy in China.