* HSI jumps 2 pct on Thursday, but falls 3 pct in February
* CSI300 up 3 pct on the day, but slips 0.5 pct this month
* HK indexes have worst month since May, underperform China
* China Vanke surges after 2012 earnings impress
* SJM sinks after earnings miss, BofA-ML downgrade
By Clement Tan
HONG KONG, Feb 28 Hong Kong shares ended
February on a brighter note on Thursday, with growth-sensitive
counters among the leading gainers after U.S. Federal Reserve
Chairman Ben Bernanke reaffirmed his commitment to strong
Mainland Chinese markets had their best day in a month ahead
of the release of an official survey of manufacturing activity
in the world's second-largest economy on Friday, with property
developer China Vanke lifted by strong 2012
The Hang Seng Index climbed 2 percent to 23,020.3
points, cutting its February losses to 3 percent. The China
Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong
Kong rose 2.6 percent, but sank 5.7 percent this month.
Thursday's gains were both indexes' best daily performance
since Jan. 2 and came in the highest turnover in three weeks,
while losses in February were its worst monthly retreat since
The CSI300 of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen
A-share listings jumped 3 percent on Thursday, cutting February
losses to 0.5 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index rose
2.3 percent on the day, but shed 0.8 percent this month.
Thursday's gains were both mainland indexes' best since Jan.
28 as Shanghai volume exceeded its 20-day moving average for
only the second time since Feb. 5. Losses in February were their
respective first monthly loss in three months.
"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.
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.
On Thursday, shares of China Vanke surged 6 percent after
its second-half net income beat expectations. Its strong
corporate earnings lifted sector peers, with Poly Real Estate
jumping 3.6 percent in Shanghai.
In Hong Kong, China Resources Land jumped 3.7
percent, while China Overseas Land rose 3.3 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, testing investors' nerves.
Other growth-sensitive sectors were also stronger after Fed
President Bernanke, facing a congressional panel for a second
day, downplayed signs of internal divisions, saying the policy
of quantitative easing has the support of a "significant
majority" of top central bank officials.
China coal counters were among the top percentage risers in
Hong Kong. China Coal Energy Ltd jumped 5.1 percent,
while China Shenhua Energy spiked 3.7 percent.
In Hong Kong, Greentown China gained 0.5 percent,
while Chinese insurers PICC Group and New China Life
Insurance each jumped 4 percent. All three are new
MSCI China index components from March 1.
EARNINGS, EARNINGS, EARNINGS
In a report on Thursday, Goldman Sachs strategists said
earnings growth troughed in the third quarter in 2012. They
expect sentiment to turn positive in the near term and raised
their MSCI China earnings-per-share growth forecast
from 0 to 1 percent for 2012 and 9 to 13 percent for 2013.
Macau casino operator SJM holdings dove 3.8
percent to HK$19.38 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
almost 8 percent in the year to date, compared to the Hang Seng
Index's 1.6 percent rise.
Hong Kong property developer Sun Hung Kai Properties
climbed 0.8 percent ahead of its first-half corporate
earnings. 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 StarMine.
After markets closed, the world's second-largest property
company by market value posted an underlying profit of HK$11.5
billion ($1.5 billion) for the fiscal first half, beating