Hong Kong shares close up 2.9 pct at highest since June 2011

HONG KONG Wed Jan 2, 2013 3:11am EST

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HONG KONG Jan 2 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares kicked off the first session of the new year by closing at a 19-month high, as investors cheered the passage of a bill in the United States Congress that averted a fiscal crisis and eased worry of a recession in the world's largest economy.

The Hang Seng Index closed up 2.9 percent at 23,312 points on Wednesday, its highest since June 2011. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong ended up 4 percent in its best daily gain in a year.

Mainland Chinese financial markets were shut for a public holiday and will reopen on Friday.

HIGHLIGHTS:

* Gains on Wednesday helped the Hang Seng Index break above chart resistance at about 22,800 that has stymied gains for most of the previous two weeks. Bourse turnover was at its best since Dec. 18.

* Counters such as growth-sensitive Chinese metal producers and sports brands that were among the biggest laggards in 2012 were among the biggest percentage gainers on the day. Citic Pacific surged 11.4 percent, while Li Ning soared 11.9 percent and ANTA Sports jumped 8 percent, all in strong volumes.

* Chinese financial stocks were among the biggest index boosts after official manufacturing data on Tuesday held steady in December, matching November's seven-month high.

* Macau gaming counters extended gains after data at midday showed gambling revenue in Macau hit a record high in December. Sands China jumped 5.3 percent, while Wynn Macau rose 2.9 percent.

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