Hong Kong shares rebound from 5-mth lows, China underperforms

Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:37pm EST

* HSI +1.1 pct, H-shares +1.9 pct, CSI300 +0.1 pct

* China cash rates creep higher ahead of Lunar New Year holiday

* Chinese bank, Internet sectors lead rebound

* Weigao Group plummets after profit warning

By Clement Tan

Jan 29 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares rebounded from a five-month low early on Wednesday, tracking a global rally after a big hike in Turkish interest rates halted a sell-off in emerging markets for now as investors covered short positions in the hardest hit counters.

Mainland Chinese markets underperformed as short-term cash rates crept higher ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday that starts Friday. Traders also said the Chinese central bank was likely to stand pat at Thursday's open market operations.

At midday, the CSI300 of the biggest Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings was up 0.1 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index inched up 0.3 percent in lackluster volumes.

The Hang Seng Index climbed 1.1 percent to 22,191.2 points, while the China Enterprises Index of the leading offshore Chinese listings in Hong Kong spiked 1.9 percent. Both closed on Tuesday at their lowest since August.

Gains helped pare a stiff sell-off in the previous four sessions that shaved about 5 percent off the benchmark indexes. Traders said investors in Hong Kong also covered bearish index bets ahead of futures settlement at market close on Wednesday.

Hong Kong markets will trade for half a day on Thursday before shutting Friday to Monday for the Lunar New Year, while mainland China is closed for a week from Friday.

"It's still not quite time to bargain hunt yet. We may get a bounce but overall, China's economy is slowing down much more than people's expectations," said Francis Cheung, CLSA's chief Hong Kong-China strategist.

A preliminary private survey released last Thursday partly precipitated the emerging market sell-off after it pointed to the first contraction in China's factory sector activity in January for the first time in six months.

The final survey reading conducted by HSBC and Markit Economics will be released on Thursday, with Beijing due to release its official manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) on Feb. 1.

On Wednesday, the Chinese banking sector was among the leading index boosts, with most counters jumping more than 3 percent. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China H-shares spiked 3.6 percent.

Hengan International, languishing at 5-1/2-month lows before Wednesday after slumping more than 12 percent in five sessions, spiked 7.7 percent.

Investors again poured into the Chinese technology sector on perceived earnings visibility. Tencent jumped 4.6 percent, recovering losses from the recent sell-off. Lenovo soared 5.7 percent to near its highest in almost 14 years.

Shandong Weigao Group Medical Polymer tumbled nearly 8 percent after the company said it expects a significant decline in 2013 profit from the year earlier.

Turkey followed India by tightening policy at a midnight meeting of its central bank, with a huge hike of 425 basis points taking the overnight lending rate all the way to 12 percent.

More emerging market central banks are expected to take steps to quell a mix of inflationary pressures at home and a flight of capital abroad.

South Africa's central bank holds its policy meeting on Wednesday, with markets also eagerly awaiting the outcome of a two-day U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting later in the day at which it is expected to trim its asset buying programme by another $10 billion a month.

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