Hong Kong shares close up 0.4 pct at another 19-mth high

HONG KONG Thu Jan 3, 2013 3:07am EST

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HONG KONG Jan 3 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares crept to another 19-month high, with last year's growth-sensitive laggards leading gains on Thursday as further positive China data affirmed the recovery trend in the world's second-largest economy.

The Hang Seng Index closed up 0.4 percent at 23,398.6, its highest close since June 1, 2011. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings ended up 0.8 percent.

Mainland Chinese markets remained shut on Thursday for the New Year holiday and will reopen on Friday.

HIGHLIGHTS:

* Chinese property stocks were stronger after Shimao Properties reported a 50 percent jump in contracted sales in 2012 from the previous year, more evidence that demand in the mainland remained robust despite curbs on home purchases last year. Chinese property developers were also bolstered by solid demand for Country Garden's tapping of the credit market, Thomson Reuters IFR reported. Shimao jumped 9.6 percent and Country Garden rose 6.3 percent.

* China coal miners tracked an Asia-wide rally following more positive data from China economy as investors chased laggards from last year. Official data showed growth in China's increasingly important services sector accelerated in December at its fastest pace in four months. China Coal Energy rose 1.5 percent, while Yanzhou Coal gained 2.5 percent.

* China power producers were among the bigger percentage losers. Huaneng Power lost 2.6 percent from Wednesday's 5-year closing high, while China Resources Power slid 3.3 percent from its highest since June 2008.

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