* HSI and H-shares -0.1 pct; CSI300 +0.5 pct
* China property aided by benign inflation, pilot programme
* Offshore Oil Engineering soars on 2013 profit expectation
* China railway H-shares down on fears of lower 2014
By Clement Tan and Alice Woodhouse
HONG KONG, Jan 9 China shares crept higher early
on Thursday, with Hong Kong markets sluggish, as the property
sector led gains after weaker-than-expected inflation data eased
some fears about more cooling measures.
An expected wave of China's first initial public offerings
since October 2012 - which has raised some concerns - is giving
a boost to the ChiNext Composite Index of mainly
startups in technology and other nascent industries listed in
Shenzhen. It climbed 0.4 percent to a record high by midday.
The CSI300 of the biggest Shanghai and Shenzhen
A-share listings was up 0.5 percent, while the Shanghai
Composite Index rose 0.3 percent as volumes stayed
The Hang Seng Index slipped 0.1 percent to 22,969.9
points. The China Enterprises Index of the leading
offshore Chinese listings in Hong Kong also declined 0.1
The China Securities Regulatory Commission has approved
about 50 A-share IPO applications. Most of them are small and
mid-cap counters, raising concerns this may direct funds away
from the large cap counters, which dominate the main benchmarks.
"Retail interest has been rather strong in those IPOs, so
these concerns are not without basis, but I doubt it will impact
market liquidity as much as people think," said Cao Xuefeng, a
Chengdu-based analyst with Huaxi Securities.
On Thursday, Offshore Oil Engineering was the
biggest percentage gainer among CSI300 component stocks. The
stock surged 9.9 percent after the company said it expects 2013
profits to rise 220 percent from the year before.
China Oilfield Services Limited < rose
6.2 percent in Shanghai and 1.7 percent in Hong Kong as
investors cheered its plans to look for secondhand capacity and
to keep this year's capital expenditure at 2013 levels.
In a call on Wednesday following a $750 million new H-share
issue, COSL management gave analysts a preview of the company's
strategy for the year.
Weaker inflation gave battered Chinese property counters
some respite. Poly Real Estate climbed 2.5 percent
in Shanghai after closing on Wednesday at its lowest since
Rising home prices raised fears that more curbs could be
implemented, including a nation-wide expansion of a property tax
The National Business Daily reported on Thursday that
Chongqing, one of two cities in the pilot trial, has raised the
land price threshold at which home owners have to pay taxes for
the third time since the trial's 2011 launch.
Data showed China's annual consumer inflation slowed more
sharply than expected to a seven-month low of 2.5 percent in
December, easing market fears of tighter monetary policy rates
although the central bank is tapping the brakes on bank
The People's Bank of China stood pat at its second scheduled
open market operations on Thursday, the fifth-straight session
it had done so. Markets are braced for higher interbank rates at
the end of January as demand spikes for Chinese New Year.
Railway counters fell in Hong Kong as officials met to
discuss 2014 investment, which is expected to be lower than last
year's 660 billion yuan ($109.07 billion), according to the 21st
Century Business Herald.
China Railway Group fell 1.6 percent, while China
Railway Construction shed 1.1 percent.