* HSI +1.1 pct, H-shares +1.4 pct, CSI300 +0.2 pct
* Short covering drives Minsheng Bank's H-share gains after
* Commodity rebound steers high beta names
* China property A-shares down on reported lending curbs
By Clement Tan
HONG KONG, April 25 Hong Kong shares climbed to
their highest in three weeks on Thursday, spurred by recovering
commodity prices and positive quarterly earnings from China
Minsheng Bank, the country's seventh-largest lender.
At midday, the Hang Seng Index was up 1.1 percent at
22,429.6 points, while the China Enterprises Index of
the leading Chinese listings in Hong Kong rose 1.4 percent. Both
were at their highest since April 3.
The Shanghai Composite Index and the CSI300
of the leading Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings
were each up 0.2 percent.
"Minsheng's first quarter earnings were pretty solid, but
much of its gains in Hong Kong today is down to short covering,"
said Jackson Wong, Tanrich Securities' vice-president of equity
Short selling interest in Minsheng Bank's H-share listing
averaged 26 percent in the first three days of the week, way
above the 9.8 percent average for the broader Hong Kong market.
On Thursday, Minsheng's Hong Kong shares jumped
3.2 percent to its highest since March 28 after China's
seventh-largest listed bank posted a 20 percent rise in first
quarter net profit from a year earlier.
But its Shanghai listing fell 1 percent,
tracking losses in the Chinese banking sector on the mainland
after regulators ordered banks to report suspicious or irregular
fixed-income transactions as part of a clampdown on the
country's vast interbank market.
The People's Bank of China, which regulates the 24.4
trillion yuan ($4 trillion) interbank bond market, told
commercial banks at a closed-door meeting on Wednesday that it
was preparing tougher regulation to deal with substitute
Haitong Securities jumped 3.7 percent
in Hong Kong and 1.9 percent in Shanghai after also posting
China Pacific Insurance rose 1.7
percent in Hong Kong and 0.2 percent in Shanghai after reporting
a 241 percent surge in first quarter net profit from a year
Bank of China , the first of the "Big
Four" Chinese banks to post quarterly earnings later in the day
along with a clutch of bellwether Chinese companies, inched up
0.2 percent in Hong Kong and was flat in Shanghai.
COMMODS REBOUND AIDS STOCKS
Commodities-related stocks were also broadly higher as gold
prices rose to their highest in a week following a recent plunge
in bullion markets. Zijin Mining , China's
biggest gold miner, jumped 5.3 percent in Hong Kong and 0.6
percent in Shanghai.
Jiangxi Copper spiked 4.4 percent in
Hong Kong and a more modest 0.6 percent in Shanghai, also helped
by an upgrade by UBS from "hold" to "buy" with analysts
believing its share price after the recent selloff, now
represents an attractive risk-reward profile.
Chinese property developers listed on the mainland were
among the biggest index drags after the China Business News
reported that the banking regulator has instructed lenders to
stop extending loans to developers guilty of "malpractices".
This comes after data from the central bank showed China's
outstanding real estate loans in the first quarter rose 16.4
percent from the same period a year ago, even as overall
industrial lending slowed.
Poly Real Estate shed 2.3 percent in Shanghai,
while China Vanke declined 1.2 percent in Shenzhen.