(Adds typhoon signal raised, financial markets closed)
HONG KONG, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Typhoon Utor veered closer to Hong Kong and China's southern coast on Wednesday, forcing airlines to cancel flights and suspending stock exchange trading in the financial centre, after leaving a trail of destruction in the Philippines.
The Hong Kong weather observatory raised its No. 8 tropical cyclone signal early on Wednesday morning, its third highest alert level.
Heavy rain and winds of up to 122 km per hour (76 mph) were recorded in parts of Hong Kong, with a number of flights cancelled at the city's international airport.
Financial markets, schools, businesses and non-essential government services close when a No. 8 or above storm signal is hoisted, although the cyclone was not expected to hit Hong Kong directly, but stray towards the western fringes of China's Guangdong province, nearer to Macau and the island of Hainan.
The morning stock exchange session was suspended and the stock market will be shut for the rest of the day if typhoon signal 8 is still in place by noon.
As of late Tuesday, more than 3,000 passengers were stranded at Sanya and Haikou airports on Hainan, according to China's official Xinhua news agency.
Cathay Pacific announced about 15 incoming and outgoing flights would be cancelled.
Some train and shipping services were also suspended, with waves of over 10 metres (32 feet) expected in some coastal zones.
Utor was the worst typhoon to hit the Philippines this year, killing six people and displacing over 30,000 families as it caused landslides and floods and disrupted power and communications links. (Reporting by James Pomfret and Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Michael Perry)