Footwear retailers lift Hong Kong, China slips near five-month lows

Tue Jan 7, 2014 11:59pm EST

* HSI +0.8 pct, H-shares +0.4 pct, CSI300 -0.3 pct

* Belle, Daphne again soar on broker upgrades

* ChiNext outperforms on report insurers can invest

* IPO wave a concern after Shaanxi Coal aims to get $1.6 bln

By Alice Woodhouse and Clement Tan

HONG KONG, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Shares of China-focused footwear retailers had strong gains again on Wednesday, helping lift Hong Kong's main benchmark indexes, but mainland Chinese markets slipped close to five-month lows.

The resumption of new initial public offerings in the mainland remained a concern on fears they may divert funds. Shaanxi Coal Industry said it is aiming to raise 9.8 billion yuan ($1.62 billion) in the country's largest initial public offering since late 2011.

The 21st Century Business Herald newspaper reported on Wednesday that the China Securities Regulatory Commission has told companies planning new IPOs to slow their preparations.

By midday, the Hang Seng Index was up 0.8 percent at 22,886.3 points, while the China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong rose 0.4 percent. If gains hold, Wednesday will produce the H-share index's first advance in 2014.

The CSI300 of the largest Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings slipped 0.3 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.4 percent as volumes stayed lackluster. Both indexes are languishing near their lowest since August.

The Nasdaq-styled ChiNext index of mainly technology start-ups listed in Shenzhen rose 2.3 percent after regulators reportedly paved the way for insurance companies to invest in firms listed on the board.

Turnover in Hong Kong plateaued after a morning rush, following issuance of new shares by China Oilfield Services , which sent their H-shares down 0.9 percent.

Investors are "just focusing their attention on individual stocks... so they are looking for some laggards in the market, particularly those where they believe that the worst is over," said Ben Kwong, Hong Kong-based chief operating officer of stockbroker KGI Asia.

Footwear retailer Belle International, which gained more than 5 percent the previous day, climbed 8.9 percent on Wednesday after Deutsche Bank analysts upgraded the stock from "hold" to "buy".

Rival Daphne International, which surged 14 percent on Tuesday, was up another 12.8 percent at midday, lifting the stock to its highest mid-October.

In 2013, Daphne tumbled more than 67 percent while Belle shares plummeted nearly 47 percent.

Shares in jewellery retailer Chow Tai Fook, surged nearly 10 percent after it reported third quarter revenue grew 26 percent.

Waste management and most alternative energy counters rose after Chinese state media reported late on Tuesday that Beijing has ordered provinces to reduce air pollution by 5 to 25 percent.

China Everbright International climbed 4.4 percent to near-record highs, while solar power names Xinyi Solar and GCL-Poly Energy each rose more than 4 percent on Wednesday day.

The State Council, China's cabinet, over the weekend pledged further support for its ailing solar power industry as the government seeks to revive a sector struggling with overcapacity and falling prices.

Still, in a sign hopes for the alternative energy sector may be overly optimistic, wind power generator China Longyuan Power Group Corp Ltd slid 3.5 percent after power- generation figures underwhelmed expectations.