Hong Kong, China shares have slim gains, shippers strong

Thu Mar 7, 2013 12:02am EST

* HSI +0.1 pct, H-shares -0.2 pct, CSI300 +0.1 pct

* Cheung Kong's steady 2013 sales target lifts HK developers

* Moutai up, Guizhou rep at NPC says growth intact

By Clement Tan

HONG KONG, March 7 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares went into Thursday's midday break slightly higher as investors took profit on banking counters, which had led gains the past two sessions, and rotated into laggards ahead of key U.S. and China data on Friday.

Property developers climbed after Cheung Kong Holdings maintained its 2013 Hong Kong sales target at HK$30 billion (US$3.9 billion), a level similar to the 2012 target, after peers had reduced their goals.

The Hang Seng Index was up 0.1 percent at 22,800.2 points, reversing early losses. The China Enterprises Index of the leading Chinese listings in Hong Kong slipped 0.2 percent.

In the mainland, the CSI300 of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings inched up 0.1 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index was flat as strength in alcohol producers offset weakness in mid-sized banks.

"There's some profit taking today after the rebound in the last two days," said Jackson Wong, Tanrich Securities' vice-president for equity sales. "We have been in this consolidation phase for more than two weeks now, so we are due a break up or down soon."

Cheung Kong climbed 1.6 percent, paring this week's losses. Hysan Development gained 0.8 percent after reporting a 24 percent growth in 2012 underlying profit after markets closed on Wednesday.

Shares of global supply chain manager Li & Fung jumped 3.5 percent after a private survey showed U.S. private-sector hiring was surprisingly strong in February. On Friday, the U.S. government's closely watched non-farm payrolls report comes out.

Chinese shippers were also broadly stronger. China Shipping Development rose 3.2 percent, while China Cosco climbed 3.7 percent in Hong Kong and 1.9 percent in Shanghai.

CHINA'S NATIONAL CONGRESS MOVES MARKETS

Chinese premium alcohol producers led index gains in the mainland after a delegate from Guizhou province at China's annual parliamentary meeting in Beijing was reported to have said a cut in public spending won't impact growth in the industry.

Kweichow Moutai, based in Guizhou, jumped 3.4 percent to its highest in almost two weeks. Wuliangye gained 2.1 percent in Shenzhen. The sector has been hurt by anti-corruption calls by the country's incoming leaders. Liquor is often offered as gifts in China.

Chinese banks were mostly weaker after the country's banking regulator was quoted by People's Daily as saying Beijing is planning to announce new policies to control credit availability for the property sector in line with intensifying curbs announced late last week.

China Merchants Bank shed 1.4 percent in Shanghai and 0.8 percent in Hong Kong. Shenzhen-listed Ping An Bank fell 1.6 percent from its highest in almost three years on Wednesday.

Beijing is due to release February trade data on Friday and data for inflation, urban investment, industrial output and retail sales on Saturday, with monthly money supply and loan growth data expected from Sunday.