* SSEC -0.4 pct, CSI300 -0.5 pct, HSI -0.5 pct
* Beijing drafts rules to curb asset management risks
* China doing preparatory work for nationwide property tax
SHANGHAI, Feb 23 (Reuters) - China stocks slid from 2-1/2 month highs on Thursday morning, with sentiment dampened after regulators circulated a draft plan of new rules for the asset management industry aimed a curbing financial risks.
Beijing’s continuing efforts to defuse a growing bubble in the property market, including plans for a nationwide tax on homebuyers, also weighed on the stock market.
Hong Kong stocks also drifted off new 18-month highs, following the U.S. Federal Reserve’s minutes released on Wednesday, which indicated a cautious approach to more interest rate increases but that it could happen “fairly soon”.
China’s blue-chip CSI300 index fell 0.5 percent, to 3,472.43 at the end of the morning session, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.4 percent, to 3,248.38. Shanghai’s index climbed to its highest since Dec. 2 intraday before easing back.
Reuters reported late on Wednesday that China’s financial regulators had circulated a draft framework of new rules for the country’s booming asset management industry.
“The policy mainly weighs on investor sentiment since most of the capital doesn’t flow into the stock market,” Cao Xuefeng, head of research at Huaxi Securities in Chengdu.
Further hurting risk appetite, China’s deputy housing minister Lu Kehua said on Thursday that the government was undertaking preparatory work for a property tax.
At the same conference, housing minister Chen Zhenggao said China’s property prices would remain stable in the first quarter and the government had the capability and methods to stabilise the market.
“Optimism toward the housing market was hurt as many of us are concerned that tax would lift home prices and contain new construction,” Cao said.
Real estate shares contracted 0.8 percent by the lunch break.
Sectors fell across the board in the mainland market, led by stocks in consumer staples.
An index tracking the sector shed 1.1 percent at midday, partly due to profit-taking after hitting the highest since June 2015 in the previous session.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index dropped 0.5 percent, to 24,086.65, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index lost 0.4 percent, to 10,491.87.
Profit-taking rose after the city’s main index ended near an 18-1/2-month high on Wednesday, but it was partly countered by sustained money inflows from the mainland.
Southbound inflows through the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect reached 43 percent of the daily quota on Wednesday, more than quadrupling Tuesday’s total usage of 9.8 percent and the highest since Dec. 30.
The financial sector was among the biggest decliners, down 0.7 percent, as the Fed’s cautious stance weighed on bank profits.
Real estate stocks gained 0.2 percent, bucking the broad trend. Hong Kong’s borrowing costs closely track that of the United States due to a currency peg to the greenback.
Reporting by Jackie Cai and John Ruwitch; Editing by Jacqueline Wong