China H-shares hit 6-week high on railway construction hopes

Thu Apr 3, 2014 1:24am EDT

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By Natalie Thomas and Chen Yixin

SHANGHAI, April 3 (Reuters) - Chinese shares listed in Hong Kong rose more than 1 percent to a six-week high on Thursday, with rail firms getting a lift after China's government announced increased investment in rail infrastructure to help boost the economy.

Hong Kong shares were also underpinned on news that mainland investors may receive greater access to buying stocks on the Hong Kong exchange.

By midday, the China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong was up 1.2 percent, having hit its highest intraday level since Feb. 20. The main Hang Seng Index was up 0.4 percent at 22,611.72 points.

The CSI300 index of the largest Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings was up 0.2 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.2 percent at 2,055.95 points.

Chinese media reported on Wednesday that Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd (HKEx) had reached an agreement with the Shanghai bourse to offer investors mutual access to each others' markets. HKEx confirmed that it and its mainland counterparts were in talks but said no agreement had yet been reached.

While analysts welcomed the news, they also sounded a note of caution, pointing to a lack of details and a history of similar moves in the past that were ultimately either scrapped, or found limited investor demand.

"Of course the news is good, it's positive, but it's not that exciting, because we still need to know how big the quota for the QFII and the QDII would be, we need more details," said Linus Yip, a strategist with First Shanghai Securities, referring to qualified investment quotas.

HKEx shares jumped 5.4 percent Wednesday on the report, its biggest one-day percentage rise in over a year, before trade in the stock was suspended. The stock was up 0.2 percent after reopening on Thursday.

Rail shares soared after China's government said it would speed up the construction of railway lines in a bid to add juice to the economy.

The Chinese cabinet announced that it would increase the total length of lines laid this year by 18 percent compared with 2013 and speed up projects that have already been approved after its weekly meeting on Wednesday.

China Railway Construction Corp gained 7 percent in Hong Kong and 2.5 percent in Shanghai, while CSR Corp Ltd gained 3.3 percent in Hong Kong and 1.1 percent in Shanghai.

Mainland index gains where limited, though, due to a pullback in property shares following Wednesday's strong gains on reports that some cities may relax property ownership restrictions.

"Actually, this was speculation in the market, market conditions do not support a sharp rise in property shares," said Xiao Shijun, analyst at Guodu Securities in Beijing.

The CSI300 property subindex declined 0.8 percent, with Beijing Vantong Real Estate Co losing 7.7 percent and Shanghai Jinfeng Investment Co dropping 6.3 percent.

In Hong Kong, Prada shares fell 6.9 percent, their biggest percentage drop in 2-1/2 years, after the Italian luxury fashion group reported full-year earnings that missed analyst estimates and forecast sales to rise by single-digit percentages this year. (Reporting By Natalie Thomas; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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