Hong Kong shares rebound from one-month low, China tepid

Tue Feb 5, 2013 11:55pm EST

(Updates to midday)

* HSI +0.6 pct, H-shares +0.7 pct, CSI300 +0.1 pct

* Defensive strength in HK, non-bank financials outperform

* China property sinks on Beijing's plan to cut inequality

* Macau gaming dives on report of 'junket' crackdown

By Clement Tan

HONG KONG, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares rebounded from the previous day's tumble to a one-month low, helped by strength in China Mobile and other defensive counters that showed investors remain cautious.

Chinese property developers sank on Wednesday after a plan Beijing announced late on Tuesday to tackle inequality included an expansion of a property tax pilot programme to more cities.

The Hang Seng Index went into the midday trading break up 0.6 percent at 23,227.8 points, with technical resistance seen at 23,407, the bottom end of a gap that opened up on the chart after Tuesday's 2.3 percent fall, the biggest drop loss in three months.

The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong rose 0.7 percent. In the mainland, the CSI300 ended a choppy morning session up 0.1 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.1 percent.

Peter So, co-head of research for China Construction Bank International Securities, said parts of Beijing's plan - such as for property taxes and interest rate liberalisation - have been talked about previously.

He said he expects that listed state-owned enterprises may see more muted performance in the second half, when more details emerge that could affect their market share.

Beijing's reiteration of its commitment to push market-oriented interest rate reforms spurred an outperformance by the non-banking financial sector and smaller Chinese banks.

Ping An Insurance climbed 4.1 percent in Shanghai and 1.1 percent in Hong Kong. Citic Securities rose 3 percent in Shanghai and 2.5 percent in Hong Kong.

Popular defensive plays, which lagged behind as more growth-sensitive stocks powered the rally from lows last year, were broadly higher. Hong Kong utilities provider Power Assets gained 1.6 percent, while China Mobile rose 1 percent.

Hong Kong developers mostly rebounded from a fall on Tuesday stemming from comments by the territory's de facto central bank chief, which sparked fears of more property market curbs. Wharf Holdings was up 2.4 percent.

China's moribund B-share market were also strong on Wednesday after the official Shanghai Securities News reported that Zhejiang Southeast Electric Power submitted its plan to convert its dollar-denominated B-shares into new yuan-denominated A-shares.

WILL THEY OR WON'T THEY?

The Chinese property sector, roiled in the past few weeks on conflicting signs on whether property taxes will be expanded in the mainland, was a key source of weakness in both on- and offshore markets.

China Vanke shed 1.5 percent in Shenzhen, Poly Real Estate slid 1.9 percent in Shanghai, while China Overseas Land fell 1.7 percent in Hong Kong.

The Macau gambling sector was hit by a report in The Times of London that Beijing is planning a crackdown later in February on triad-linked "junket" operators who bring high-rolling gamblers into Macau from mainland China.

Shares of Wynn Macau, SJM Holdings, Melco International and MGM China dove by more than 7 percent, while Sands China was down 6 percent.

(Editing by Richard Borsuk)