The Hang Seng index closed down 96.83 points at 9,502.72 in the wake of the Bank of East Asia's profit figures. Bank of East Asia - one of the first major banks to report 1998 earnings - said profits fell to $120m, and bad debt write-offs totalled $192m. Analysts said BEA's debt provisions confirmed problems of corporate bad loans in China.
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HONG KONG shares closed after one of the territory's largest banks said bad debts in China contributed to a 56 per cent drop in profits last year.