* HSI +0.7 pct, H-shares +0.8 pct, CSI300 -0.6 pct
* China property sector strong, finmin comments buoy reform
* China Unicom up after plan to buy fixed assets from parent
* Wuliangye set for 6th daily loss, contamination fears
By Clement Tan
HONG KONG, Nov 22 Hong Kong shares climbed to
their highest in two weeks on Thursday, helped by strength in
Chinese property counters as investors cheered comments by the
country's finance minister carried in official media about
policy on the sector.
But gains were capped by a weak mainland Chinese market, hit
again by a slump in the share prices of alcohol producers.
Official investigations by Hunan provincial authorities
substantiated earlier Chinese press reports about excessive
toxic substances in Jiugui Liquor products.
China and Hong Kong markets, however, barely reacted to a
preliminary survey of November manufacturing activity in China,
which showed the country's vast manufacturing sector saw
expansion accelerate in November for the first time in 13
The Hang Seng Index was up 0.7 percent at 21,663.3 at
midday, its highest intra-day level since Nov. 8. The China
Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong
Kong rose 0.8 percent.
The CSI300 Index of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen
listings crept down 0.6 percent, while the Shanghai Composite
Index slipped 0.5 percent. Both trimmed gains after a
strong intra-day reversal of losses on Wednesday.
"The question now is what Beijing is planning to do to
ensure stability in the property market in the longer run. They
have maxed out all the micromanaging-type of policies this
year," said Lee Wee-Liat, head of Asia property research at BNP
"I think the expectation in the market is for structural
reforms to be gradually announced next year, leading to the
phasing out of things like home price curbs. Comments today
should feed this sentiment," Lee added.
Official media on Thursday quoted Finance Minister Xie Xuren
as saying that the implementation of property taxes will be done
On Thursday, China Overseas Land & Investment
jumped 2.4 percent, creeping back towards an all-time high set
on Nov. 5. China Resources Land soared 3.7 percent to
its highest in almost three years.
They are each set for their first annual gain in three
years, now up 68 and 58 percent on the year.
In the mainland, China Vanke gained 0.6 percent,
while Poly Real Estate edged up 0.2 percent.
But Evergrande bucked strength among its sector
rivals on the day, declining 1.4 percent after the Hong Kong
Economic Journal reported on Thursday that the southern
China-focused developer cut prices by as much as 15 percent to
meet full year sales targets.
China Unicom was up 2.9 percent after the
country's second-largest mobile operator said on Wednesday it
would pay 12.2 billion yuan ($2 billion) to its parent company
for the fixed-line assets in 21 southern Chinese cities and
BOTTOMS UP NO MORE
Chinese alcohol makers listed in the mainland tumbled
further after the official Xinhua news agency reported that
Hunan provincial authorities found as much as 1.04 milligrams
per kilogram (mg/kg) of plasticisers in samples of Jiugui
Plasticisers are additives that increase the fluidity of a
material, but are also toxic chemicals that can cause damage to
men's reproductive health and cause early female puberty when
consumed over a long period.
This according to Xinhua, was more than three times above
the health ministry's 0.3 mg/kg limit, but was within the
0.495-2.32 mg/kg range the China Alcoholic Drinks Association
listed in a statement on Monday, adding that higher-end
alcoholic drinks contain higher levels of plasticiser.
Jiugui's Shenzhen shares stayed suspended, as they have been
since Monday, but major players in the Chinese white spirits, or
baijiu, sector deepened a downward spiral on the month.
Wuliangye Yibin is set for a sixth-straight
loss, diving 4.4 percent to its lowest since July 2010. It has
now slumped 18.1 percent in November, set for its worst monthly
showing in more than four years.
Bigger rival, Kweichow Moutai shed 1.7 percent
but went into the midday break off the day's lows, which were
also its lowest since April 11.
Moutai was up as much as 28 percent on the year at the end
of October, losses of about 13 percent this month have seen this
year's gains cut to just more than 11 percent.
Shares of baijiu makers have been on the backfoot since last
month on worries over high inventory levels and fears that
strong anti-corruption moves would sap demand for the expensive
bottles often used as gifts to local government officials.