* HSI +0.9 pct, H-shares +1.4 pct, CSI300 +0.5 pct
* China export data trumps expectations, lifts markets
* Chalco soars 8 pct, leads strength in beta plays
* HK property stronger ahead of housing secretary address
By Clement Tan
HONG KONG, Jan 10 Hong Kong shares hit a new
19-month high on Thursday, with gains picking up in
growth-sensitive counters after China's December trade data
trumped expectations, prodding benchmark indexes back towards
Mainland Chinese markets also climbed after data showed
China's exports grew 14.1 percent last month compared with a
year earlier, easily beating a Reuters poll forecast of 4
percent and the 2.9 percent growth seen in November.
The Hang Seng Index went into the midday trading
break up 0.9 percent at 23,419.5, surpassing its previous high
posted last Thursday. Chart resistance is next seen at around
23,707, the highs on June 1, 2011.
The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese
listings in Hong Kong gained 1.4 percent, outshining the
Shanghai Composite Index and the CSI300 of the
top Shanghai and Shenzhen A-shares, which each rose 0.5 percent.
"The China trade data was an obvious trigger for gains
today, which are still driven by fresh buying," said Jackson
Wong, Tanrich Securities' vice-president for equity sales.
The bullish trade data had followed tepid December money
supply and loan growth data released before markets in Hong Kong
and China opened for the day.
In Hong Kong, Chinese shippers and materials counters were
among the biggest percentage gainers. Aluminum Corporation of
China surged 8.1 percent to a 10-month high, while
China Shipping Development spiked 6.6 percent.
Shares of Baoshan Iron & Steel (Baosteel) gained
1.8 percent in Shanghai after it posted 2012 net profit that
rose about 40 percent to 10.3 billion yuan ($1.65 billion),
spurring gains for the sector.
China's iron ore imports surpassed 70 million tonnes for the
first time in December, driving full-year imports to a record
level, customs figures showed on Thursday, boosted by restocking
in the world's top buyer.
Hong Kong property stocks were stronger ahead of an expected
address by the Chinese territory's housing secretary after
markets close on Thursday. New World Development
jumped 4.5 percent, while Cheung Kong Holdings gained
CHINA AIRLINES JUMP AFTER CITI UPGRADE
Chinese airlines were also buoyed by a Citi upgrade of the
sector, based on an expected improvement in earnings as domestic
air traffic continued to recover in December, and some recovery
on routes to and from Japan after a plunge follwing the Diaoyu
island dispute between China and Japan.
Air China climbed 5.5 percent after
Citi added the stock to its Pan Asia focus list and raised its
target price by 28 percent, expecting the industry leader to
benefit from a recovery in domestic traffic, especially in the
Beijing market. Air China's Shanghai listings rose 0.9 percent.
China Eastern Airlines soared 8.2
percent after Citi analysts upgraded their rating from "neutral"
to "buy" and raised their target price for its Hong Kong listing
by 36 percent, expecting CEA to be the largest beneficiary if
the Japan market recovers. Its Shanghai listing climbed 2.7