* HSI, H-shares +0.2 pct; CSI300 +0.3 pct, Shanghai +0.5 pct
* Policy jitters sink HK, China property sectors
* AIA hovers near all-time highs ahead of Wednesday's
* China policy details ahead of meetings next week seen key
By Clement Tan
HONG KONG, Feb 25 Hong Kong and China shares
eked out their first gain in three sessions on Monday, as
strength in heavyweight financial stocks countered weakness in
the property sector amid weak volume that pointed to lingering
caution after steep losses last week.
The Hong Kong property sector was a drag after the city
government announced more measures last week to cool the market,
while most Chinese developers were hurt by an official news
report that more curbs are in store.
The Hang Seng Index rose 0.2 percent to 22,820.1,
bouncing off last Friday's 2013 closing low with its first gain
in three days. The China Enterprises Index of the top
Chinese listings in Hong Kong also gained 0.2 percent.
In the mainland, the CSI300 of the top Shanghai
and Shenzhen A-share listings climbed 0.3 percent, while the
Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.5 percent.
Both indexes pared gains after a private preliminary survey
showed growth in China's manufacturing sector in February
slipped to its lowest in four months.
Gains also came in the weakest Shanghai volume since
Christmas Eve as China's money rates rose across the board on
Monday after the People's Bank of China signalled that it would
drain more funds from the market via its open market operations
on Tuesday, traders said.
The CSI300 saw its worst weekly loss since July 2010 last
week, with offshore China markets suffering steep losses as
well, on fears of more tightening after the Chinese central bank
moved to aggressively drain funds from the interbank market.
"It's a waiting game at the moment, with the U.S. Fed chief
testimony on Tuesday and the outcome of the elections in Italy
due to come. We're not sure if this is the bottom," said Jackson
Wong, Tanrich Securities' vice-president for equity sales.
"But a strong mainland market will help. Investors will be
looking out for details of proposed policy changes leading up to
China's annual parliamentary meetings next week," Wong added.
Caijing magazine reported that plans for a reform in
governmental departments have been drafted and will be discussed
at the second plenum meeting of the Communist Party Central
Committee later this week, ahead of next week's annual
On Monday, Chinese property shares dived after the official
China Securities Journal reported that Beijing is likely to
unveil new property tightening measures before the annual
National People's Congress on March 5.
The newspaper report listed expanding property taxes and
implementing limits on house purchases in more cities as two
possible measures, which while not new, rattled investors.
Shares of China Vanke, the country's largest
developer by sales, shed 2.7 percent in Shenzhen, Poly Real
Estate slid 2.1 percent in Shanghai, while China
Resources Land slid 1.4 percent in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong property sector was also weaker after the city
government imposed higher stamp duties and home loan curbs on
property transactions late last Friday in a sixth round of
policy measures to cool an overheated property
Property agent Midland Holdings dived 4.4 percent,
but finished the day near the day's highs. Sun Hung Kai
Properties lost 1.3 percent, while Cheung Kong
Holdings slipped 0.6 percent.
Analysts expect the new cooling measures to only have a
short-term effect on property transactions and said Hong Kong's
government is likely to launch further housing curbs in the near
EARNINGS IN FOCUS
Corporate earnings are a growing focus. Just under a tenth
of Hong Kong-listed companies tracked by Thomson Reuters
StarMine have reported 2012 earnings and initial data suggests
there could be more misses than beats in the 2012 results
In Hong Kong, 53 percent of the companies that have reported
so far have missed expectations, with the biggest
disappointments among industrials and materials.
Among those that posted results on Monday, ANTA Sports
ended up 1.2 percent, paring gains after posting at
midday a 21.5 percent decline in its 2012 full year net profit,
largely in line with expectations.
Shares of insurer AIA Group hovered near all-time
highs, rising 1.1 percent on the day. Now up 6.6 percent on the
year, AIA is currently trading at a 10 percent premium over its
historical 12-month forward earnings multiple as investors opt
for its perceived earnings safety.
According to StarMine, three of 17 analysts upgraded their
forecasts for AIA's full year 2012 earnings by an average of
23.7 percent in the last 30 days. AIA is due to post its
earnings results on Wednesday.
Also stronger on Monday was Europe's largest bank and Hang
Seng Index heavyweight HSBC Holdings, up 0.4 percent.
Chinese banks, among the hardest hit last week, were among the
top index boosts.
Chinese brokers rose, with Haitong Securities
up 1 percent in Shanghai and 0.8 percent in
Hong Kong after the official China Securities Journal reported
an expansion of a short selling pilot scheme from Feb. 28.