Hong Kong shares post weekly gain; autos, financials rise

Fri Oct 5, 2012 4:20am EDT

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By Vikram Subhedar

HONG KONG, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares rose for a fifth straight session on Friday to end the holiday-shortened week higher, helped by a recovery in oil-related stocks while autos jumped after BMW reported strong sales in China last month.

The Hang Seng index rose 0.5 percent to 21,012.4 points, bringing its weekly gain to 0.8 percent and its year-to-date rise to around 14 percent. The China enterprises index rose 1.2 percent, outperforming other Asian benchmarks.

Financials, which carry the biggest weight on the Hong Kong benchmarks, outperformed led by insurer AIA Group, which rose 1.7 percent on Friday and ended the week up 3.5 percent, nearing a record high.

The Hang Seng's run of gains stretches back to last week because the market was closed on Monday and Tuesday due to public holidays. China's domestic markets were closed all week and will reopen next week.

"Markets certainly feel poised to break higher in the absence of any new banana skins causing a slip up," said a trader at an American brokerage, adding that following an uneventful week across Asia all eyes were now on the U.S. jobs report and the resumption of trading on mainland China markets.

U.S. payrolls data, the penultimate report before the presidential election on Nov 6, is likely to show jobs increased by 113,000 last month but the jobless rate ticking up to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent in August.

Chinese markets are likely to play catch-up when they reopen next week, lending further support to Hong Kong shares, said Alan Lam, Greater China analyst at Julius Baer.

"Expectations of short-term economic stimulus policy in China after the 18th Party Congress in November should provide support for Chinese equities," said Lam in an email.

A once-in-a-decade leadership transition in China gets under way Nov 8.

OIL STOCKS RECOVER, BMW SPURS AUTOS GAINS

Oil-related stocks, which were on the backfoot over the past two sessions on worries about weak global growth, recovered slightly from their slump, with Petrochina up 1.2 percent and Sinopec 0.7 percent higher.

China Oilfield Services rose 5.3 percent and was the biggest gainer on the China Enterprises index after an industry publication reported it had bought a second-hand rig to increase capacity.

Analysts at Nomura, who rate the stock a "buy", upgraded their earnings forecasts for the company on expectations of more purchases.

Chinese automobile stocks were among the day's top performers, with Brilliance China Automotive Holdings, BMW's joint venture partner, up 5.9 percent.

Baoxin Auto, on which Goldman Sachs initiated coverage with a "buy" on Thursday, rose 7 percent.

BMW said sales of its flagship BMW brand in China rose 55 percent in September to roughly 27,000 vehicles.

Shares of Hong Kong's top mall operator, Wharf Holdings, fell 1.5 percent, while Swire Properties lost 1.3 percent after weak retail sales data pointed to lower spending by Chinese tourists.

Both were the biggest losers on the Hang Seng. (Reporting by Vikram Subhedar; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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