Hong Kong, China shares set for best week in months as blue chips jump

Fri Jul 25, 2014 12:53am EDT

* HSI -0.1 pct, H-shares -0.2 pct, CSI300 +0.5 pct

* New China Life Insurance drops after report says Temasek sold shares

* AIA intraday level hits record high on strong H1 new business growth

* Five IPOs draw 415.5 billion yuan in high demand (Updates to midday)

By Grace Li

HONG KONG, July 25 (Reuters) - China shares are headed for their best weekly gain in 3-1/2 months on Friday, powered by continued strength in blue chips including bank stocks that is helping mainland markets outperform Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's benchmark index hovered around its highest in more than three years, while the H-share index slipped slightly on profit-taking. Both are set for their best week since May and March.

By midday, the CSI300 of the leading Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings and the Shanghai Composite Index each added 0.5 percent to their highest since mid-April. The SSEC stood at 2,115.53 points.

They are now up 3.9 and 2.7 percent this week, respectively.

The Hang Seng Index inched 0.1 percent lower at 24,129.38 points, after hitting its highest since April 2011 the previous session. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong fell 0.2 percent.

On the week, the two indexes rose 2.9 and 4.5 percent, respectively.

"Some consolidation is in place. Earlier this week we have experienced a rally in Hong Kong stock market, with both trading volumes and stock prices going up," said Mark To, head of research at Wing Fung Financial Group.

"The uptrend is rather healthy because most of the blue-chips and also the larger-cap stocks are beneficiaries," he said, adding that he expected the Hang Seng to hit another high in the next few weeks.

AIA Group climbed 0.5 percent, trimming gains from market opening which helped it hit a record high.

AIA Group, second-largest insurer in Asia by market capitalisation, on Friday reported a 23 percent rise in the value of new business in the first half of the year, led by strong growth in Hong Kong and China.

New China Life Insurance was the biggest decliner in percentage terms, sinking 4.1 percent after a media report said Singapore sovereign investor Temasek had sold its entire holding in the insurer.

Chinese coal firms extended gains, shrugging off comments from an industry association leader on Thursday that problems facing the sector were expected to get worse, with prices eroded by falling demand growth, a worsening supply glut and a war on smog.

China Shenhua Energy , the mainland's largest coal producer, gained 1.7 percent in Shanghai and 0.7 percent in Hong Kong.

Solid gains this week were matched by robust volumes, with Thursday turnover in Shanghai hitting the highest this year.

At the same time, the five initial public offerings which started taking subscriptions on Wednesday locked up 415.5 billion yuan ($67.06 billion), beating many research forecasts, the official Shanghai Securities News reported.

($1 = 6.1963 Chinese Yuan) (Editing by Eric Meijer)