Hong Kong shares bounce from week low, China crawls higher

Tue Jan 8, 2013 11:58pm EST

* HSI +0.4 pct, H-shares +1 pct, CSI +0.1 pct

* Indexes running into resistance at recent highs

* Ping An bucks China insurers recovery in HK

* China banks leads HK gains after UBS upgrade

By Clement Tan

HONG KONG, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares bounced from their lowest in a week on Wednesday, as Chinese banks helped kickstart the resumption of a start-of-the-year rally on a brokerage upgrade, sending benchmark indexes back towards multi-month highs.

Ping An Insurance bucked a recovery among offshore Chinese insurance counters, slipping 0.6 percent after more reports suggesting HSBC's sale of its $9.4 billion stake to Thailand's CP Group could be in jeopardy.

The Hang Seng Index went into the midday trading break up 0.4 percent at 23,191.3, with resistance seen at 19-month highs set last Thursday at about 23,400 points.

The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong climbed 1 percent after its worst daily loss in two months on Tuesday had sent the H-shares index to its lowest since Jan. 2.

In the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index and the CSI300 of top Shanghai and Shenzhen listings each inched up 0.1 percent. Both indexes have been hovering near its highest since mid-June after a strong December surge.

"We are running into chart resistance now, so investors are looking to rotate into laggards. There is no need to be too bearish right now, at least in the first quarter," said Hong Hao, Bank of Communication International Securities' chief strategist.

On Wednesday, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) rose 1.1 percent in Hong Kong after UBS raised its target price for ICBC's H-share listing by almost 21 percent. Its Shanghai listing gained 0.2 percent.

Chinese banks were the top three boosts on the Hang Seng Index. Other than ICBC, China Construction Bank (CCB) rose 0.9 percent, while Bank of China (BOC) gained 1.7 percent. ICBC has rallied 40 percent from a trough on Sept. 5, while both CCB and BOC have jumped about 30 percent.

China Railway Group rose 3 percent after JP Morgan analysts raised their target price for its Hong Kong listing by 41 percent, while China Railway Construction gained 1.1 percent after JPM raised its target price by 36 percent.

MOUTAI HELP A-SHARES INCH GAINS

Mainland Chinese markets hovered near seven-month highs, with gains in alcohol producers on the day limited by lingering weakness in the Chinese non-banking financial sector as investors rotated into laggards in December.

Kweichow Moutai rose 2.1 percent to near its highest in about two weeks, continuing its recovery from a Dec. 6 trough. Moutai shares slumped 12.7 percent in November, its worst monthly loss since April 2010.

On Wednesday, investors cheered more news reports of the bigger producer of Chinese premium white spirits cracking down on suppliers reducing prices ahead of the Chinese New Year in February.

Ping An's Shanghai shares shed another 0.9 percent after diving 3.7 percent on Tuesday, which was its worst single day loss since Oct. 29. China Life Insurance declined 1 percent.

Zoomlion Heavy Industry tumbled 6.6 percent in Hong Kong and 2.9 percent in Shenzhen, despite the company's denial of a Hong Kong media report concerning irregular accounting.

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