* HSI +1.2 pct, H-shares +1.9 pct, CSI300 +0.9 pct
* Indexes set for February loss, HK set for worst month
* Vanke's positive earnings lift China property sector
* SJM sinks after earnings disappointment, BofA-ML downgrade
By Clement Tan
HONG KONG, Feb 28 Hong Kong shares are set to
post their best daily gain in two months on Thursday, with
growth-sensitive counters among the biggest gainers after U.S.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reaffirmed his commitment
to strong stimulus.
Bernanke, facing a congressional panel for a second day,
also downplayed signs of internal divisions, saying the policy
of quantitative easing has the support of a "significant
majority" of top central bank officials.
Mainland Chinese markets also rose, with China Vanke
buoying gains in the property sector after the
country's largest developer by sales posted positive 2012
The Hang Seng Index went into the midday break up 1.2
percent at 22,850.9. If gains hold, this will be its best daily
showing since Jan. 2. The China Enterprises Index of the
top Chinese listings in Hong Kong climbed 1.9 percent.
In the mainland, the CSI300 of the top Shanghai
and Shenzhen listings rose 0.9 percent, while the Shanghai
Composite Index gained 0.6 percent as midday bourse
volume sank to its lowest since Monday.
Gains so far helped trim February losses for all four
indexes. The CSI300 is now down 2.6 percent, while the Shanghai
Composite is down 2.4 percent. The China Enterprises Index, down
more than 6 percent, and the Hang Seng Index, down almost 4
percent, are set for their worst monthly showing since May 2012.
"We have had quite a bad month, but this is after the strong
rally we had in the two months before," said Larry Jiang, chief
investment strategist at Guotai Junan International Securities.
"I don't think we need to get overly anxious at this point.
There's still a lot of money in the market even though inflows
have slowed. Everybody's waiting to see what's coming out of the
meetings next week," Jiang added.
In Hong Kong, the Chinese coal sector posted among the
strongest gains on the day. China Shenhua Energy Co Ltd
jumped 4.8 percent to its highest in a week.
China Vanke jumped 4.2 percent to its highest in almost two
weeks after its second half net income beat expectations. Its
strong corporate earnings lifted sector peers, with Poly Real
Estate up 3 percent.
In Hong Kong, China Resources Land jumped 3.4
percent, while China Overseas Land rose 1.8 percent to
almost claw back losses on the month.
China's property market has been rife with speculation -
about rising house prices and what the new government may do to
curb them once it takes office next week - that has tested stock
The annual Chinese People's Political Consultative
Conference and National People's Congress, where Xi Jinping is
expected to be confirmed as president, start in Beijing on March
3 and 5, respectively.
EARNINGS AND MORE EARNINGS
Macau casino operator SJM holdings dived 3.7
percent after posting a weaker-than-expected 2012 net profit
increase that triggered brokerage downgrades, including one from
Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.
BofA-ML downgraded its outlook on the stock from "neutral"
to "underperform" while cutting its target price from HK$22 to
HK$21.10, seeing limited upside with SJM's stock price still up
7.8 percent in the year to date, compared to the Hang Seng
Index's 0.9 percent rise.
Hong Kong property developer Sun Hung Kai Properties
climbed 0.8 percent ahead of its first half corporate
earnings later in the day. Up 3.3 percent on the year, it is
trading at a 16 percent discount to its historical 12-month
forward earnings multiple, according to Thomson Reuters
In the last 30 days, 3 of 20 analysts have downgraded their
full year earnings per share estimates for Sun Hung Kai
Properties by an average of about 2 percent.