Hong Kong shares post 1st gain in 4 days, China extends losses

Thu Nov 29, 2012 4:16am EST

* HSI +1 pct, H-shares +0.9 pct, CSI300 -0.6 pct

* Brokerages lead reversal in A-shares on reported fee cuts

* Chow Tai Fook jumps ahead of interim earnings

* Geely, Sunac slip, but end higher than stake sale price ranges

By Clement Tan

HONG KONG, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares posted their first gain in four days on Thursday after a prominent U.S. lawmaker raised hopes of a deal to resolve the U.S. fiscal policy standoff, though turnover remained weak, pointing to fragile confidence in the market.

But onshore Chinese stocks slipped to a fourth-straight loss, with brokerages leading a reversal of midday gains after local media reported key industry players may cut commission fees.

The Hang Seng Index rose 1 percent to 21,922.9 points, erasing losses in the first three days of the week, while the China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings rose 0.9 percent.

The CSI300 Index of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen listings shed 0.6 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.5 percent, lingering at its lowest closing levels since January 2009.

This is the first day this week that Hong Kong markets held onto gains, unaffected by a sluggish A-share market on the day.

Shanghai volumes neared two-month lows. While turnover in Hong Kong hit a three-week high, it was swelled by two block deals involving Chinese automaker Geely and Sunac China Holdings.

"It's not the best time to be making big positional changes now. Most investors are waiting for policy guidance on the structural reforms the Chinese leadership has been talking a lot about," said Alan Lam, Julius Baer's Greater China equity analyst.

Lam said sectors such as Chinese property and Internet-related names such as Tencent Holdings present greater earnings clarity in the near to medium term.

On Thursday, Tencent rose 0.7 percent, recovering some losses in the first three days of the week.

It is now up 63.7 percent on the year, compared to the 18.9 percent gain on the Hang Seng Index and the China Enterprises Index's 5.6 percent rise.

China Resources Land, one of two pure China property components on the Hang Seng Index, ended up 1.4 percent after earlier testing its highest intraday level in more than three years. It is now up 60.3 percent on the year.

The Chinese banking sector was among the biggest index movers in Hong Kong, also recovering some losses made earlier in the week. China Construction Bank rose 1.9 percent, while Industrial and Commercial Bank of China gained 0.8 percent.

Bucking broader market strength on the day, Chinese automaker Geely Automobile declined 1.1 percent to HK$3.54, above the HK$3.30 to HK$3.40 per share price range in Goldman Sachs Principal Investment Area's $262 million selldown.

Property developer Sunac China Holdings lost 2.1 percent to HK$4.75, also above the HK$4.42 to HK$4.50 per share range that Bain Capital priced its offer, which was up to 8.9 percent discount off its Wednesday closing price.

PLAYING CHINA STRUCTURAL REFORMS

In their preview of the Chinese stock markets for 2013, Goldman Sachs strategists said less volatility in China's GDP growth will see the market shift focus from cyclical to structural reform plays.

They reiterated mass market consumption as a theme for the new year, expecting it to be supported by a policy focus on safety nets and a reduction of wealth disparity.

But a strong move against corruption by China's new leadership would be negative for some consumer discretionary names, said Julius Baer's Lam. Luxury brands such as Chow Tai Fook, could suffer.

Chow Tai Fook, the China-focused jewelery retailer, which is the world's biggest by market cap, jumped 5.4 percent ahead of its interim earnings. It is up 13.6 percent this month.

After markets closed, Chow Tai Fook posted a bigger than expected 33 percent fall in six-month profit, hurt by slower economic growth in China, higher operating costs and losses on gold hedging.

Chinese brokerages suffered stiff losses on the day, largely driven by a selldown of the sector in the afternoon.

The 21st Century Business Herald newspaper reported on its website that there has been some discussion by key players in the brokerage industry of a reduction in broker commission fees.

Citic Securities ended down 2.8 percent in Hong Kong and 4.4 percent in Shanghai. Brokers accounted for six of the top 10 drags on the CSI300 Index.

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